Neymar hits hat-trick as Barcelona crush Celtic

Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:31pm EST
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By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Neymar finally showed the goalscoring touch he has been threatening with a hat-trick as Barcelona shrugged off their recent dip in form with a 6-1 win over Celtic at the Nou Camp on Wednesday to seal top spot in Champions League Group H.

Gerard Pique stabbed home with seven minutes on the clock and, with Celtic stretched at the back, Pedro and Neymar both finished clinically before half-time.

Neymar had never scored before in Europe but got two more after the break, with Adam Matthews unable to stop the Brazilian's third from going over the line. Cristian Tello completed Barca's scoring with another deflected shot.

Celtic grabbed a consolation goal through Giorgios Samaras two minutes from time.

Barcelona finish top of the section with 13 points, four ahead of second-placed Milan and five ahead of Ajax, who drew 0-0 at the San Siro.

Barca's 20-match unbeaten start to the season was ended at Ajax in their previous European match, and it was followed by defeat in La Liga by Athletic Bilbao. But Gerardo Martino's side, still without the injured Lionel Messi, responded with a fine attacking display against the Scottish champions.

For Celtic it is the end of a poor run in Europe. They have lost all their away games, and at home, where they are normally strong, they managed only one win, over Ajax.

"It was our most complete performance, I would say, in the four months that I have been here," Martino told a news conference.   Continued...

Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez (L) is congratulated by team mate Neymar after scoring a goal against Celtic during their Champions League soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea