NICOSIA (Reuters) – Lionel Messi set a new Champions League scoring record with a hat-trick and Luis Suarez netted his first in Barcelona colours as the Spaniards comprehensively beat APOEL Nicosia 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Suarez opened the scoring and his Barca account in the 27th minute, before Messi surpassed the record of 71 goals he jointly held with former Real Madrid and Schalke 04 striker Raul when he put Barcelona 2-0 ahead.
The Argentine doubled his account to make it 3-0 in the 58th minute and netted his 74th Champions League goal to complete the rout with three minutes left after Rafinha was sent off for Barcelona and APOEL’s Joao Guilherme also saw red.
Barcelona stay second in Group F with 12 points, a point behind leaders Paris St Germain who they face in their final match.
APOEL are bottom of the group with one point, a point behind Ajax Amsterdam.
Barcelona went close in the 17th minute when Messi broke into the area despite the presence of three APOEL defenders. He cut the ball back, but Suarez was only able to shoot tamely at the hosts’ keeper Pardo.
The Uruguayan, who joined Barcelona from Liverpool in the close season having been hit with a lengthy ban for biting at the World Cup, found the target 10 minutes later with a neat finish after a clever turn.
After Dani Alves was ruled out of Barcelona’s final, decisive group game against PSG on Dec. 10 after picking up a silly booking, Messi made it two in the 38th minute, redirecting a Rafinha shot into the APOEL goal.
The Argentine increased his tally following a superb through ball from Alves, that left the diminutive playmaker with the relatively simple task of dinking it over the APOEL keeper.
Barcelona’s German keeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a spectator for most of the night, was called on to make his first meaningful contribution in the 66th minute, pulling off an acrobatic save to his right to deny substitute Tomas De Vincenti.