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Summary

  1. Second-placed Barcelona move four points clear of Ajax
  2. Barca one behind Group F leaders PSG, who beat Apoel
  3. Teams at the halfway point of the group stage

Live Reporting

By Jonathan Jurejko

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Match report

    Neymar

    Barcelona warmed up for Saturday's El Clasico against Real Madrid with a comfortable Champions League win against Dutch title holders Ajax.

    In-form Neymar scored his seventh goal in his last five Barca appearances to put the Spanish leaders ahead, before Lionel Messi converted Andres Iniesta's accurate pass to double the tally.

    With this weekend's trip to the Bernabeu in mind, Luis Enrique withdrew Neymar, Messi and Iniesta in the second half as Barca began to relax.

    That allowed Ajax to nick a late consolation through teenage forward Anwar El Ghazi, before Barca's own young substitute Sandro Ramirez, who replaced Neymar, killed off any hope of a dramatic Dutch comeback.

    Messi's strike put him within two of Spanish striker Raul, who is the Champions League's all-time leading scorer with 71 goals.

    But the Argentina captain missed several other chances to move even closer to the Real Madrid legend as Barcelona dominated a poor Ajax side.

    The Dutch champions offered little threat against the Catalans who are top of the Spanish league after eight matches under new boss Enrique.

    Messi and Neymar posed danger throughout as Ajax, who had taken two points from their opening two Group F matches, were pinned back in their own half.

    It was an unhappy return for Ajax coach Frank de Boer, who played alongside Enrique at the Nou Camp between 1999 and 2003.

    His side are now four points adrift of second-placed Barcelona, who bounced back from their 3-2 defeat at Paris St-Germain.

    The French champions lead the group at the halfway stage after netting a late 1-0 win at Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia.

    Barcelona 3-1 Ajax
    Barcelona 3-1 Ajax
  2. FULL-TIME

    Barcelona 3-1 Ajax

    And that's virtually the final kick of the match as Barcelona warm up for Saturday's El Clasico in style.

  3. GOAL

    Barcelona 3-1 Ajax - Sandro Ramirez

    Sandro Ramirez

    Game, set and match. Teenage substitute Sandro Ramirez relieves the pressure with a cool, calm and collected finish.

  4. Post update

    Barcelona 2-1 Ajax

    Not deterred by his previous doomed attempt (see 85 mins), Dani Alves hovers over another free-kick in a dangerous position. Over the bar. Again.

  5. Post update

    Barcelona 2-1 Ajax

    Anwar El Ghazi has the bit between his teeth now. He barges Marc Bartra out of the way and almost sees tomorrow's headlines as he catches a glimpse of the home goal. But Bartra recovers enough to make him slice wide.

    A rather generous four minutes of stoppage time for Barca to hang on/Ajax to grab an equaliser.*

    * Delete as appropriate in four minutes' time.

  6. GOAL

    Barcelona 2-1 Ajax - Anwar El Ghazi

    Barcelona 3-1 Ajax

    No change from the free-kick, but seconds later the Dutch champions do manage to halve the deficit. Teenage forward Anwar El Ghazi bundles in from close range after some comedy Barca defending. Ajax can't - can they? Two minutes and stoppage time to find a leveller...

  7. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Any chance of an Ajax consolation? They have a free-kick close to the left byline....

  8. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Dani Alves

    Without the aforementioned Barca triumvirate, their remaining team-mates are left scrapping it out for the right to take control of a 25-yard free-kick. In the end it is Dani Alves who pulls rank, only to balloon his effort over the Ajax bar.

  9. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    If seeing Neymar, Messi and Iniesta was supposed to boost Ajax morale, then it isn't showing. Munir is giving the Dutch defence another headache, first seeing a shot blocked then teeing up Rafinha who fires over.

  10. YELLOW CARD

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Moments after flashing a low cross-shot down Ajax's corridor of uncertainty, Pedro is back in action at the other end of the field. And he shows why he is better suited in attacking situations, clumsily hacking down Lucas Andersen to pick up Barca's first yellow card.

  11. SUBSTITUTION

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Andres Iniesta

    Another Barca substitution, another star man is withdrawn. Skipper Andres Iniesta trudges over to the dugout, with young midfielder Rafinha eagerly racing on to take his place.

  12. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Pique stands with his arms outstretched on the touchline, pleading with William Collum to be allowed back on. But the Scottish referee won't let him return until giving him the once over himself. In the meantime, Ajax almost have a sniff of the Barca goal. But Davy Klaassen miscues when well placed, skying high into the warm Catalan night.

  13. OUCH!

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Gerard Pique is left eating grass after getting a whack around the head in an aerial challenge. He gets to his feet quickly - after all he will not want to lose his place ahead of El Clasico - but is taken to the touchline for some treatment. A good splash of the magic sponge does the trick before gingerly clambers to his feet.

  14. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Ajax are looking far more comfortable since the departure of Barca's Batman and Robin (Messi and Neymar). The Spanish leaders have not created much in the last few minutes - until, right on cue, Ivan Rakitic lets fly from distance. That stings the palms of Ajax keeper Jasper Cillissen, but no further damage is done.

  15. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Of course Messi jumping into the Barca bath early doors means he won't overhaul Raul as Champions League all-time scorer tonight. That record will surely tumble - along with all the rest - later this season.

  16. SUBSTITUTION

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    "Come in number 10 - your time is done." For tonight at least, Lionel Messi's work is over. The Argentina captain is withdrawn, again with Saturday's trip to the Bernabeu at the forefront of Luis Enrique's thoughts. Teenage forward Munir, a Moroccan-born Spain international who has burst on to the scene this season, replaces him.

  17. Stat attack

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Neymar has scored seven goals in his last five games for Barcelona - his best run scoring for the Spanish leaders.

  18. SUBSTITUTION

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Time for Neymar to put his feet up. With Saturday's El Clasico in mind, Barca boss Luis Enrique decides to give the Brazil skipper a breather. On comes Sandro Ramirez - a like for like swap - who is yet another talented teenager to emerge from La Masia...

  19. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Lionel Messi

    Barcelona are pounding on the Ajax door harder than an angry bailiff wanting money. Messi misses another chance to close in on all-time Champions League scorer Raul, firing over the Ajax bar. Remember, the Real Madrid legend is two goals ahead of the Barca hero.

  20. Stat attack

    Opta Johan: Only Cristiano Ronaldo (7) has scored more Champions League goals against Ajax than Lionel Messi (4, with Roy Makaay and Jose Callejon).

  21. SUBSTITUTION

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Ajax boss Frank de Boer hands over another substitution form to the fourth official in an attempt to salvage the game. Jairo Riedewald - the youngest-ever scorer in the Eredivisie - trots on for Niki Zimling.

  22. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    The cameras inside the Nou Camp have just homed in on ex-Barca captain Carles Puyol. He's yawning. An Ajax goal would liven things up and the Dutch champions do force a rare opener. But the chances falls to right-back Ricardo van Rhijn, who slices horribly wide.

  23. CLOSE!

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Lionel Messi

    If Ajax manage to stop Messi scoring another I'll eat my hat. The Barca magician dances through the Ajax defence, showing quicker feet than John Travolta in Grease as he pounces on a loose ball, and then the net bulges. The side-netting. Close but not close enough.

  24. DISALLOWED GOAL

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Now Lionel Messi has the ball in the onion bag. The Argentina captain sticks out a toe to divert Pedro's shot past Jasper Cillessen but he doesn't celebrate. He knows he is offside and turns to see the linesman's flag wafting in the Catalonia air.

  25. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    But Milik barely has time to tuck his shirt into his shorts before seeing Barca almost grab a third. That man Messi dribbles into the danger zone but wildly fires over.

  26. KICK-OFF

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Frank de Boer had to do something at the break, and he has in the shape of a substitution. Teenager Ricardo Kishna is hooked and replaced by Poland international Arkadiusz Milik - who you may recall scored in their surprise 2-0 victory over Germany.

  27. HALF-TIME

    Group F as it stands

    And that means that the Group F table currently looks like this....

    Group F
  28. HALF-TIME

    Apoel Nicosia 0-0 Paris St-Germain

    Goals are flying in across Europe tonight - except in Cyprus. That's where Barcelona and Ajax's Group F rivals Apoel Nicosia and Paris St-Germain are doing battle. Goalless over there.

  29. Stat attack

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Ajax boss Frank de Boer was playing - and his brother Ronald scored - when the Dutch side last won on Spanish soil. That was a 3-2 extra-time win at Atletico Madrid in the 1996-97 Champions League quarter-finals.

  30. HALF-TIME

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Ajax coach Frak de Boer

    Before kick-off, Ajax boss - and ex-Barcelona defender - Frank de Boer was blowing kisses to the Nou Camp crowd which used to adore him. But after that first-half display by his players, he will be blowing raspberries now...

  31. HALF-TIME

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

  32. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Barcelona v Ajax

    Now a bead of perspiration dribbles off the brow of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson shoots speculatively from distance and Ter Stegen is almost left wrongfooted by a huge deflection off Marc Bartra.

  33. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Moments after Ajax had the audacity to go into the Barca half (se 36 mins), the Dutch champions have upped the ante further - by having a shot. But it is a poor one. Niki Zimling's slashing a tame effort wide. Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has not broken sweat yet.

  34. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Andres Iniesta runs with the ball

    I've just drooled over my keyboard at the brilliance of Andres Iniesta. The Barca captain slaloms through the Ajax defence with the poise and balance of an Olympic skier, leaving him staring into the whites of Ajax keeper Jasper Cillessen's eyes. Iniesta clips towards the far corner, but the Dutch keeper stands tall to superbly deflect out for a corner.

  35. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Hurrah! Ajax move the ball into the Barcelona half. Teenager Ricardo Kishna is going nowhere down the left flank - until, that is, Gerard Pique sloppily allows him to wriggle clear as he tries to shepherd the ball out. But Pique recovers as a heavy touch from Kishna runs through to keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

  36. Get involved

    #bbceurofooty

    John McEnerney: Barcelona looking more and more dangerous with every attack another before half-time and it's goodnight Ajax! Superior all over the park.

  37. YELLOW CARD

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Joel Veltman is the first Ajax defender to lose his cool. He slides straight through the back of Neymar to earn the dubious honour of being the first name to go into referee William Collum's notebook.

  38. Text us on 81111

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Tom: You expect football hipsters to only recognise three Ajax players (see 19:43)? I must be obsessed by this game! Schone is the danger man in this team.

  39. HITS THE WOODWORK

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Almost three! Pedro pulls back his left peg like a catapult before slamming the ball against the foot of Ajax's right post. The Dutch side will already be asking the referee how long to go until the half-time oranges.

  40. Post update

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax

    Lionel Messi is feeling the groove now. He nutmegs Davy Klaassen on the touchline, leaving his hapless Ajax opponent only able to dump him on to the turf.

    That goal puts him two behind Raul now as the all-time Champions League top scorer. Only a fool would bet against him reaching that tonight. I'm certainly not.

  41. GOAL

    Barcelona 2-0 Ajax - Lionel Messi

    Messi celebrates

    Now it might be time to showboat! And who else to bag Barcelona's second but Lionel Messi.

    But Ajax are the architects of their own downfall as a poor clearance goes straight to the feet of Javier Mascherano. He feeds Andres Iniesta who sticks the ball through the Ajax defence like a piece of cotton through a needle. And there's Messi to accurately thread into the corner of the away net. Easy.

  42. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    Pedro, the man likely to be most under threat by Luis Suarez's imminent return, tries a bit of showboating as he attempts to rescue another Barca attack. Not time for that yet lad...

  43. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    That's if he manages to see out this match unscathed, Andrew. The spiky-haired Brazilian is hacked down by an Ajax defender close to the halfway line to the groans of the Catalan crowd. Thankfully he's back to his feet and good to go...

  44. Get involved

    #bbceurofooty

    Andrew Priestley: Neymar is in some real form of late, just in time for Saturday's El Clasico!

  45. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    Chances of an Ajax fightback? Slim at the moment. Very slim. The Dutch champions have barely set foot in Barcelona territory as Andres Iniesta - the Pied Piper of Spanish football - dictates the tune of the game.

  46. Post update

    Apoel Nicosia 0-0 Paris St-Germain

    Barcelona and Ajax aren't the only two sides hopeful of escaping Group F. Paris St-Germain, who beat Barcelona last time out, are the group leaders and travel across the Med to face Cypriot champions Apoel. It's no holiday though - PSG are toiling in the opening 15 minutes. Still goalless.

  47. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    Neymar isn't worth his huge transfer fee, they cried. Messi isn't as effective alongside Neymar, they moaned. Those dissenters have scurried into the darkest corners of Barcelona now.

    The pair are now looking like the most dangerous tag team since The Legion of Doom. Linking up to leave defenders dazed, pouncing for the killer move.

    Neymar
  48. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    Not if Lionel Messi buried this chance. The Argentine, who needs just three goals to eclipse Raul as the Champions League's all-time leading goalscorer, fires over the Ajax bar when well placed.

  49. Post update

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax

    Any way back for Ajax?

  50. GOAL

    Barcelona 1-0 Ajax - Neymar

    And they are well on their way to avoiding another defeat. More Lionel Messi magic starts the move, playing a neat one-two with Pedro, before picking out his partner in crime Neymar. The Brazilian does not break stride before curling expertly into the far corner.

  51. Stat attack

    Barcelona 0-0 Ajax

    Barcelona have lost just one of their last 28 home Uefa Champions League matches.

  52. Post update

    Barcelona 0-0 Ajax

    Still Barcelona cling on to the ball like an upset baby holds on to their comfort blanket. But it is all comfortable for Ajax, Barca knocking the ball around from side to side but failing to plunge any incisive balls forward.

    Dani Alves
  53. Post update

    Barcelona 0-0 Ajax

    Predictably Barca find their stride quickly. A young Ajax side are barely allowed a kick as the Spanish leaders keep possession before warming the gloves of Ajax keeper Jasper Cillessen for the first time.

  54. KICK-OFF

    Barcelona 0-0 Ajax

    Few Scottish accents get near the Champions League group stages these days, but tonight we have one in the Nou Camp. That comes from the vocal chords of referee William Collum. He pips his whistle for the first time and that means it is game on.

  55. Post update

    Barcelona v Ajax (19:45 BST)

    That familiar Champions League music blasts out of the Nou Camp PA system for the umpteenth time as the players line up ahead of their handshakes. A huge roar greets the final bar, with plenty of Dutch voices making a din in the cavernous Nou Camp. Almost show time...

  56. Get involved

    #bbceurofooty

    Time for some audience participation. Is tonight going to be a cakewalk for Barca? Luis Enrique's men are the early pacesetters in Spain, having won all but one of their eight La Liga matches. Scored? 22. Conceded? None.

    Or will they have one eye on Saturday's El Clasico against Real Madrid, allowing Dutch champions Ajax to steal in and nick the points? Let us know using #bbceurofooty or text 81111.

  57. Post update

    Barcelona v Ajax (19:45 BST)

    Neymar

    How many names do you recognise in that Ajax starting XI? One? Two? Three, if you're a football hipster, perhaps?

    However little your knowledge of the Dutch champions is, you still probably know as much as Barcelona striker Neymar. The Brazilian raised a few laughs in a pre-match news conference when he struggled to identify any Ajax players who might cause Barca problems.

    Neymar managed a sheepish giggle at himself - but he won't be laughing if Ajax cause an upset tonight...

  58. Team news

    Barcelona v Ajax (19:45 BST)

    Sergio Busquets misses out for Barcelona with a hip injury, although boss Luis Enrique hinted in his news conference yesterday that it was likely to be an absence through caution rather than necessity. The reason? Barca have the small matter of the first El Clasico of the season against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Saturday. Wise thinking.

    Enrique makes four changes from Saturday's 3-0 home win against minnows Eibar, with Andres Iniesta among the new faces. Experienced midfielder Xavi drops to the bench.

  59. Team news

    Barcelona v Ajax (19:45 BST)

    Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Bartra, Alba; Rakitic, Mascherano, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Neymar.

    Ajax starting XI: Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Viergever; Klaassen, Zimling, Andersen; Schöne, Sigthorsson, Kishna.

  60. Post update

    Barcelona v Ajax (19:45 BST)

    Friends who haven't seen each other for a few years would usually meet up over a pint and a packet of salted peanuts or, if you're a bit more cultured, an expresso coffee and piece of walnut layer cake.

    But tonight Ajax boss Frank De Boer and Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique - those two handsome chaps on the team photo below - reconvene in far less relaxed circumstances. In a must-win Champions League tie.

    So the pair, who played together for Barca between 1999 and 2003, may not be quibbling over the pub/cafe bill, but any contentious refereeing decisions tonight may see the conversation turn awkward...

  61. Friends reunited

    Barcelona v Ajax

    Recognise the bloke standing second from left on the back row? And what about the man wearing the captain's armband next door but one to his left?

    Once upon a time they were Barcelona team-mates, combining to help the Catalan giants win the Spanish title. Now they meet again at the Nou Camp - older, wiser and with a few extra pounds around the middle.