Soccer-Barcelona thrash Royal Antwerp 5-0 with Felix double

Soccer Football - Champions League - Group H - FC Barcelona v Royal Antwerp - Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Barcelona, Spain - September 19, 2023 FC Barcelona's Joao Felix celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) -Barcelona's new forward Joao Felix struck twice in a 5-0 demolition of visiting Royal Antwerp in their Champions League Group H opener at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Tuesday.

After successive group-stage eliminations, Barca gave debutants Antwerp a football masterclass, dominating possession with quick passing as Felix, Lewandowski and Gavi all scored.

"Between this win and the 5-0 against Betis on Saturday I think this is probably the best quality of play we've produced since I took over," coach Xavi Hernandez said.

"This is the road we want to be on. The team's making me proud."

Last-minute signing Felix opened the scoring with the home side's first attempt in the 11th minute, netting with a low strike inside the near post.

The Portuguese then set up Robert Lewandowski inside the box to double their lead eight minutes later as the Poland striker became the third player to score 100 goals in European competition after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Raphinha helped to make it 3-0 to the five-time European champions after 22 minutes when his strike from a tight angle deflected off defender Jelle Bataille for an own goal.

Winger Arbnor Muja had a chance to give the visitors a glimmer of hope just before halftime but his low effort from the edge of the box was kept out by goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.

Barca returned after the break determined to increase the advantage in their 28th Champions League group-stage campaign, a competition record shared with Real Madrid.

They did not have to wait long as Gavi made it 4-0 by smashing the ball into the roof of the net before Felix added another goal with a header to complete the rout at Barca's temporary home while Camp Nou is being redeveloped.

Barca's dominance was reflected in 22 goal attempts compared to only three from Antwerp, who were playing in the Champions League after winning their domestic league title for the first time in more than 60 years last season.

It is the Belgian side's fifth successive campaign in Europe and their second in the continent's leading club competition after they featured in the European Cup in the 1957-58 season.

"(Barcelona's) first three shots on target were three goals for them," said Antwerp coach Mark van Bommel.

"They are on top of the world. That makes sense, they keep playing, tapping, turning, that's where we have to go but we're still a long way from that, but that's no shame. That is a very big learning moment for us."

In the other Group H clash, Porto beat Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 in Hamburg.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon)

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