Barcelona 7-0 Celtic: Messi, Suarez and Neymar inflict heaviest ever European defeat on Scottish champions

Celtic's return to the Champions League ended miserably as they, and manager Brendan Rodgers, suffered their heaviest European and career defeats away at Barcelona - the irresistible trio of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar scoring six among them in a 7-0 win.

Barcelona 7-0 Celtic: Messi, Suarez and Neymar inflict heaviest ever European defeat on Scottish champions
(Picture: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
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Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba, Rakitić (Iniesta, min. 45), Busquets (Rafinha, min. 60), André Gomes, Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Celtic: De Vries, Gamboa, Lustig, Touré, Sviatchenko (O'Connell, min. 67), Tierney, Roberts (Armstrong, min. 67), Brown, Biton, Sinclair, Dembélé.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 3, Messi. 2-0, min. 27, Messi. 3-0, min. 50, Neymar. 4-0, min. 59, Iniesta. 5-0, min. 60, Messi. 6-0, min. 75, Suárez. 7-0, min. 89, Suárez.
REFEREE: Ovidiu Hategan (ROM). Yellow cards: Ter Stegen (min. 26), Rakitić, (min. 40), Brown (min. 56).
INCIDENTS: UEFA Champions League Group C match-day one fixture between Barcelona and Celtic at Camp Nou. Attendance: 90,000.

Celtic endured a miserable return to the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona as Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Neymar laid on five goals in a 7-0 rout to inflict the Scottish side's heaviest ever defeat in European competition.

Brendan Rodgers' men could not prevent an irresistible triumvirate of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - who scored a record-breaking 131 goals between them in all competitions last term - as the South American strikeforce netted six of the evening's seven. 

Messi had a brace by half-time, opening the scoring after just three minutes as he took advantage of a lack of concentration within Celtic's defence, with Moussa Dembele missing a penalty for the away side in between.

Neymar put the result beyond doubt just a minute into the first-half, before two goals in two minutes from Messi - sealing his hat-trick - and half-time subsitute Andres Iniesta made it 5-0.

Suarez added a brace of his own at the Camp Nou, volleying home a stunning sixth before finishing from Messi's low cross late on to seal the most comprehensive of victories.

In fact, it was Barcelona's best-ever result in the Champions League - as well as Celtic's heaviest - to put the Spanish outfit in early control of Group C.

Changes aplenty for Barca, with two for Celtic

Rodgers set up his side with damage limitation seemingly in mind, despite having talked optimistically about Celtic's desire to come away with a result in the build-up to the club's first Champions League group stage since 2013, and at the same venue as their last.

The Northern Irishman made two changes from the side that thrashed bitter rivals Rangers 5-1 in the Old Firm derby at Celtic Park on Saturday, with captain Scott Brown fit enough to keep his place.

Cristian Gamboa, signed from West Bromwich Albion, came into a five-man back-line for his debut by taking the place of James Forrest while Patrick Roberts replaced Tom Rogic.

Barcelona's much-changed eleven from the side that crashed to defeat against Alaves in La Liga at the weekend saw Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi start together for the first time this season.

Iniesta was only fit enough for the bench, while a completely changed defence saw Samuel Umtiti partner Gerard Pique with Sergi Roberto at right-back and Jordi Alba on the left.

Messi ensures a nightmare start for the visitors 

Messi fires the breakthrough past Dorus de Vries early on. (Picture: Getty Images)
Messi fires the breakthrough past Dorus de Vries early on. (Picture: Getty Images)

Despite coming into the game on the high of their emphatic derby victory, Celtic were behind as early as three minutes in.

After a short corner, Neymar slipped a through ball into Messi, who ghosted beyond the back-line and drove into space at the near post before firing a powerful effort across Dorus de Vries and into the far top corner to give the home side the perfect start.

Luis Enrique's men oozed confidence and class in the early stages, their energy proving too much for the visitors, who remained penned in their own third.

Messi went close to a second on 16 minutes, when Erik Sviatchenko's challenge on Ivan Rakitic allowed the ball to break away for him around 30 yards from goal. The 29-year-old poked the ball through the legs of Nir Bitton before attempting to bend a shot which went a yard wide of De Vries' post.

It could, and arguably should, have been 2-0 just moments later when Suarez found himself with a gilt-edged opportunity.

Once again, Messi was at the heart of the move as he took advantage of time and space down the right to perfectly pick out Suarez at the back post, but he couldn't quite keep his left-footed effort beneath the crossbar from an angle.

Dembele wastes Celtic's slim chance of a result

A frustrated Dembele after seeing Ter Stegen save his first-half penalty. (Picture: Getty Images)
A frustrated Dembele after seeing Ter Stegen save his first-half penalty. (Picture: Getty Images)

Just before the half-hour mark, Celtic had the unlikely opportunity to draw level when Saturday's hat-trick hero Moussa Dembele was fed through on goal by Scott Sinclair and Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen tripped him inside the area.

The 20-year-old striker stepped up to the spot himself, but after a short and slow run-up, his poorly-placed penalty resulted in a simple save for Ter Stegen to maintain the hosts' advantage.

The Scottish champions were made to rue a hugely missed opportunity, finding themselves 2-0 down only 90 seconds after their missed spot-kick.

The combination of Neymar and Messi tore through the Hoops' defence, sharing a couple of one-twos with the last seeing Neymar round De Vries and square to Messi for a simple close-range finish to double the lead.

Celtic were continually forced to defend as Rakitic saw an effort cleared off the line from Kieran Tierney at a corner and De Vries denied Neymar with his feet.

Sinclair had the ball in the back of the net for Celtic before the break, but was rightly flagged offside, before Messi fired over the crossbar after Neymar's work down the left.

Ruthless 'MSN' tear Celtic to shreds 

Messi, Suarez and Neymar were at their scintillating best together on Tuesday. (Picture: Getty Images)
Messi, Suarez and Neymar were at their scintillating best together on Tuesday. (Picture: Getty Images)

Just a few minutes after the restart, Neymar made it 3-0 after Messi was tripped by Bitton on the edge of the box. The Brazilian stepped up to the 20-yard free-kick and guided an effort over the wall which De Vries got a hand to, but couldn't keep out.

Celtic found it increasingly difficult to get out of their own half and in the 59th minute, found themselves trailing by four as Iniesta - only brought on at half-time - lashed home a terrific first-time volley from Neymar's cross to leave De Vries helpless.

And just 76 seconds after conceding a fourth, Celtic leaked a fifth as the Catalans ran riot. Suarez was allowed in behind and squared for Messi to complete his hat-trick with ease - his sixth in the Champions League alone.

With Celtic unable to get enough bodies forward on the counter-attack, Bitton's speculative - and wasteful - attempt from the halfway line their only shot of real note, it was no surprise that the never-ending pressure continued to tell as the second-half wore on.

Having lost 6-1 on their last visit to Camp Nou in 2013, a result that before tonight remained Celtic's heaviest defeat in Europe, it was 6-0 with 15 minutes remaining when Suarez got on the scoresheet.

Suarez adds a late brace to rub salt into the wounds

Suarez celebrates making it 6-0. (Picture: BBC Sport)
Suarez celebrates making it 6-0. (Picture: BBC Sport)

The talisman of the Brendan Rodgers-led Liverpool team that nearly inspired them to the title three years ago, the Uruguayan showed the kind of class that has made him so important to the Blaugrana.

Controlling Neymar's clipped pass on his chest with his back to goal, before spinning and firing a volley high into the roof of the net in trademark brilliance, Suarez showed just why Rodgers was so keen to enthuse about his talents in his pre-match press conference.

That was Neymar's fifth assist of the evening, having also added a goal, but Barcelona weren't done there.

Just for good measure, they added a seventh late on. After De Vries tipped Messi's strike on to the post, a short corner allowed the sublime Argentine to roll a cross into Suarez in the six-yard box and he needed only to get a touch to seal a forgettable night for the visitors.

It took MSN's total tally to 266 goals and 128 assists after just over two seasons together, with Celtic now needing to pick themselves up after a chastening return to the top-table of European football.

The result means Barcelona go top of Group C, with a commanding goal difference, with the other group game between Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach rained off.