BARCELONA, September 30 – Holders Barcelona recorded their first Champions League win of the new campaign with goals from Lionel Messi and substitute Pedro securing a 2-0 win over Dinamo Kiev at Camp Nou on Tuesday.After a perfect five wins in the league Barca kick-started their European defence and replace Kiev at the top of Group F on four points after Inter Milan drew 1-1 with Rubin Kazan.
Argentine Messi, top-scorer in last season’s Champions League with nine goals, scored Barca’s first goal after 25 minutes before substitute Pedro, the latest hope from the club’s youth team, added a second to bring up a scoreline that still didn’t reflect their dominance.
"I was fortunate enough to score and just hope it is not the last," said Pedro. "I have to take advantage of the minutes I get in this team and try to make my mark.
"It is important to get a first win in the Champions League so we can relax a bit and be at the top of the table although we still have to keep on working hard and winning."
With French international striker Thierry Henry out injured, Spanish international Andres Iniesta, Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final hero against Chelsea last season, made his first start since the 2-0 final win over Manchester United in May.
After several months out with a thigh injury Iniesta has been bedded in slowly with substitute appearances but he looked razor-sharp and had a penalty shout turned down on the quarter-hour mark after he went down after having his shirt tugged.
Dinamo, semi-finalists in 1999, went close themselves though when Barca’s Brazilian defender Dani Alves had to shuffle his feet quickly to clear a ball zipped across the penalty area.
"Because of our ambition we always want to improve," said Alves. "Sometimes in the Champions League we give teams some chances on the counter attack and one day our rivals will be more clinical and give us a fright."
With 25 minutes gone Barca registered their first Champions League goal in this season’s competition and, predictably, it was Messi who scored it.
The Argentine, who has been scoring freely in the league, drifted inside with a burst of pace and before the Kiev defence had time to react he had curled a trademark finish into the corner.
A minute later Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced a vintage pass for Messi but the chance went begging and when the pair reversed roles shortly afterwards Ibrahimovic saw his chip blocked.
The two stars have struck up a real rapport despite having just started playing together and were carving a hapless Kiev open at will.
In contrast, former AC Milan striking icon Andriy Shevchenko, celebrating his 33rd birthday, was starved of service up front for the away side.
A youthful Shevchenko scored a first-half hat-trick for Kiev in a 4-0 group stage win over Barcelona at Camp Nou back in November 1997 but he didn’t have a look-in this time around as Barca controlled proceedings.
In the second half Ibrahimovic and Messi resumed their torture of the Kiev defence and both had chances to score in the first five minutes after the interval.
After 67 minutes Ibrahimovic was denied again as his drilled shot was well saved after a great run and pass from Seydou Keita.
The second goal finally came in the 76th minute with the ubiquitous Ibrahimovic setting up subsitute Pedro to slot home after neatly shifting the ball onto his left foot.
Barcelona sit a point above Kiev at the top, with Inter Milan two points back in third, and the champions’ next match is against Rubin Kazan on October 20.