Messi, Neymar, Suarez score; Barca tops PSG in Champions League group
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez all scored to lead Barcelona to a thrilling 3-1 comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, as the Spanish club snatched first place in Group F of the Champions League from the French side.
With both sides already qualified for the last 16, they made up for the lack of tension with a display of attacking football by two of Europe's top contenders.
PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic started the scoring in a free-flowing first half at Camp Nou in the 15th minute. Messi hit back four minutes later from Suarez's cross to take his competition record to 75 goals.
Both sides traded chances before Neymar netted with a spectacular long-distance drive three minutes from halftime. Suarez tapped in Neymar's rebound to seal the victory in the 77th. Also in Group F, Ajax routed Cypriot side APOEL 4-0 to finish third and move on to the Europa League.
Barcelona extended its run of advancing as group winners for an eighth consecutive year. PSG only needed a draw to go through as group winners and theoretically get a more favorable draw, but Barcelona instead avenged its loss at Paris from September by dealing the French champions their first defeat in their 23rd game of the season.
PSG made their elegant opening goal look nonchalant, as Blaise Matuidi received the ball with his back to the net and used one touch to knock Lucas' pass back for Ibrahimovic to sweep the ball in with his left foot.
Barcelona responded in similar fashion. Javier Mascherano picked out Suarez's run to the goalline, and the fellow ex-Liverpool player knocked a pass across the goal where Messi raced in to smash in the equalizer. While Barcelona controlled possession and probed PSG's area without much success other than Messi's strike in the 19th, Laurent Blanc's side was dangerous going forward when it had the chance, especially down the right flank.
Matuidi set up Lucas with a cross that the Brazilian fired wide before Edinson Cavani drew a save from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the 31st.
Barcelona turned to Neymar's individual skill to take control. Mascherano won the ball in midfield and quickly passed it to Neymar, who did the rest by streaking forward before unleashing a right-footed strike that bent around outstretched goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and landed inside the upright.
PSG had a golden opportunity in the 53rd after Lucas broke past Jeremy Mathieu, but defender Marc Bartra used his body to block consecutive shots from Lucas, Cavani and Matuidi.
Barcelona settled down with Xavi Hernandez and Ivan Rakitic as midfield reinforcements, and Suarez scored his second goal in nine games for Barcelona to put the game out of reach.