Barca begin campaign in five-star style

BARCELONA got their defence of the Champions League off to a flying start by giving out a 5-0 thrashing to Levski Sofia in torrential rain, in their Group A match last night.

Seeking to become the first team to retain Europe’s top club trophy since AC Milan achieved the feat in 1990, Barca tormented the Bulgarians with goals from Andres Iniesta, Ludovic Giuly, Carles Puyol, Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho.

Barca took to the pitch with seven of the men who also started when the Catalans beat Arsenal 2-1 in last season’s Champions League final in Paris and almost immediately showed their class. Iniesta opened the scoring after just six minutes with a wonderfully struck right foot shot from just outside the area.

Giuly added their second after 39 minutes.

Club captain Puyol scored the team’s third goal four minutes after the break. It was Puyol’s first goal in eight years of European football, seven of which have been Champions League campaigns, when he was on hand to slot home a loose ball after Ronaldinho’s curling free kick had hit the post.

Eto’o got himself on the scoresheet just before the hour, set up Deco.

Ronaldinho finished off the fiesta two minutes into injury time.

“The first thing was to get the win, in the Champions League you have to respect every opponent. After that, yes, it was satisfying to score so many goals,” said Barcelona captain Puyol.

Chelsea will face Levski Sofia in their next clash while Barca will face Werder Bremen.

Meanwhile Group C remains wide open after a goalless draw between Galatasaray and Bordeaux was added to Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with PSV in Holland.

In Group D former Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes scored a hat-trick as Valencia came from behind to beat Olympiacos 4-2 in Piraeus.

Michalis Konstantinou put the Greek side in front (28) as they defended a proud 10-match unbeaten home record against Spanish opposition in Europe.

However, Morientes hit back with two goals in five minutes (34 and 39) to give Valencia the lead. Olympiacos hit back through Nery Castillo (66) but the visitors forged back ahead as David Albiol’s 85th-minute goal made it 3-2 and Morientes grabbed his third in the final minute. Roma are the Group D leaders after beating Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 in the Italian capital with goals from Rodrigo Taddei, Francesco Totti, Daniele de Rossi and David Pizarro.

Bayern Munich are the early leaders in Group B after spanking Spartak Moscow 4-0 at the Allianz Arena.

Claudio Pizarro gave Bayern the lead three minutes into the second half before another South American forward — Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz — claimed a second in the 52nd minute. Bastian Schweinsteiger made sure of the points with a third for the Bundesliga champions in the 71st minute and Hasan Salihamidzic added a fourth five minutes from time.

A second-half goal from Marco Caneira proved enough for Sporting Lisbon as they beat Inter Milan 1-0 at the Jose Alvalade Stadium. Former Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira was sent off for Inter in the second half for a second bookable offence.

Inter brought on former Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo to add some flair to its attack late in the game but it was all to no avail, even though Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw a grasscutter from 30 yards drift just inches wide of the post with just two minutes to play.

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