BARCELONA (Reuters) – Robert Lewandowski struck a hat-trick in his first Champions League game for Barcelona to power the Catalans to an emphatic 5-1 home win over Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday.
Midfielder Franck Kessie put Barca in front in the 13th minute, heading in his first goal for the club following a corner.
Lewandowski extended their lead with a right-footed finish into the bottom corner in the 37th, after Barca had survived a scare which almost led to them conceding a penalty and having a man sent off.
Viktoria were awarded a penalty and Barca defender Andreas Christensen was shown a red card for hauling down Jhon Mosquera but a VAR review showed Mosquera had struck Christensen with an elbow and the decision was overturned, the Plzen forward being shown a yellow card instead.
Plzen pulled themselves back into the game in the 44th minute with a header from Jan Sykora but Barca quickly restored their two-goal cushion when Lewandowski produced a diving header from an Ousmane Dembele cross to score again in first-half stoppage time.
Lewandowski completed his treble midway through the second period, meeting a layoff from Ferran Torres and curling the ball inside the far post with one touch.
It was the striker’s sixth hat-trick in the Champions League and he became the first player in the competition’s history to score a hat-trick for three different clubs, having struck trebles for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
Torres completed a hugely satisfying evening for Xavi Hernandez’s side by scoring the fifth goal to put Barca top of Group C. They head to Lewandowski’s former club Bayern Munich next on Sept. 13, when Plzen host Inter Milan.
It was a near-perfect night for Barca and in stark contrast to their first game of the competition last season, when they were outclassed and beaten 3-0 by Bayern on their way to crashing out of the group stage for the first time in 21 years.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)