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Lewandowski's landmark treble sounds warning to Barca rivals

China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-09 09:20
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Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring Barcelona's third goal at Camp Nou on Wednesday. REUTERS

BARCELONA, Spain - It didn't take long for Robert Lewandowski to leave his mark with Barcelona in the Champions League.

Lewandowski scored three goals in the team's opening 5-1 rout of Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, becoming the first player to get a hat-trick with three different clubs in the Champions League.

The 34-year-old Poland striker now has seven Champions League hat-tricks, with the others coming with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona's biggest signing of the year continued his great start to the season, taking his tally to eight goals from his first five matches.

"I knew from the beginning here it was going to be important to adapt right from the first game," Lewandowski said. "People ask about the goals, but it's important to be in the right position, to help my team because my teammates have helped me a lot on and off the pitch."

Lewandowski said the goals were a gift to his wife, who was at Camp Nou celebrating her birthday.

"The fact that she was in the stadium on her birthday means a lot," he said. "Something amazing for me."

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said he was running out of words to praise his new striker.

"Robert is relentless," Xavi said. "He is humble and is always working hard. I don't have enough compliments for him. He scored three goals today, but it wasn't only that. It's about how he helps the team, about his presence. What a fantastic signing."

Franck Kessie, another Barcelona signing, and Ferran Torres also scored for the host in the Group C match.

Lewandowski's former club, Bayern, won 2-0 at Inter Milan in the other group match.

Barcelona's victory ended a 34-match unbeaten streak in all competitions for Plzen. The Czech club had won 10 of its first 12 matches this season. It entered Wednesday's game with 29 wins and five draws.

Barcelona spent big to revamp its squad despite struggling financially in recent years. It finished behind Real Madrid in the Spanish league and was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League last season.

The new signings have clicked early on and Barcelona has outscored opponents 16-2 to start the season.

Kessie, making his Champions League debut, opened the scoring with a header off a corner kick for his first goal for the Catalan club. Jules Kounde, another Barcelona signing in the offseason, redirected the ball toward Kessie with another header inside the area.

Lewandowski added to the lead in the 34th with a well-placed shot into the far corner from inside the area. He scored again in first-half stoppage time with a header after a nice cross by Ousmane Dembele and with a low shot from outside the area in the 67th.

Lewandowski had already scored five goals in four Spanish league matches this season.

"Lewandowski showed his class tonight," Plzen coach Michal Bilek said. "His finishing is phenomenal and he perfectly chooses the right position in the box. He is rightly considered one of the best forwards in the world."

Plzen had pulled one closer in the 44th minute with a header by Jan Sykora. Torres scored the fifth goal for the host with a close-range volley in the 71st.

"We expected such a hard match," Bilek said. "The boys did what they could, but it was not enough. Barcelona showed tremendous quality in all aspects of the game."

Agencies via Xinhua

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