FC Barcelona got a deserved win (3-1) over Sporting Lisbon tonight at the Camp Nou on the first date of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

The game looked under Barça’s control almost the whole time, with the visiting side finding few opportunities to threat Víctor Valdés’s goal. Rafael Márquez scored in the first half and after the break Samuel Eto’o (pen.) made it 2-0 for the hosts on the hour. A goal scored by Sporting centre-back Tonel from a set piece with 18 minutes left generated some tension, but Barça immediately regained control of the situation and secured the win when Xavi scored the third goal after an excellent pass from Iniesta. Leo Messi played the entire game and was as incisive as usual; either starting from the right side of the attack or acting as a centre forward (the position Lionel played in for the last part of the game), Messi’s dribbling abilities created trouble to Sporting’s defence and got him close to scoring in a couple of good chances.

Barça head the Champions League’s group C table and will travel to Ukraine to play against Shakhtar Donetsk on the second date of the group in two weeks’ time. This weekend Pep Guardiola’s men will face Sporting Gijon away in the domestic league.