Entering Wednesday's match against Celtic, Neymar had yet to score a Champions League goal or net a hat trick for Barcelona. You can now scratch those two feats off the checklist. Three goals from the Brazilian helped Barca win Group H and stroll into the knockout round.
Neil Lennon knew going in that it would be a tough night for his Celtic side. The key of the Scottish side would be to play well defensively and not give away easy chances to Barcelona. So, of course, a giveaway in the defensive third led to the opening goal just seven minutes in.
Virgil van Dijk's botched clearance set-up the chance as Barcelona jumped on the ball, sending it right back in to Alexis Sánchez whose initial shot was saved by Fraser Forster. Unfortunately for the Celtic keeper, he left a massive rebound that feel right to Gerard Piqué who blasted a shot into the top netting.
After a fair amount of time in which Barcelona either wasted chances or had shots blocked by Celtic defenders, it finally doubled their lead in the 39th minute.
Neymar made a break through the center of the pitch before veering right into the Celtic area. Despite Efe Ambrose's best efforts to stay in front of the Brazilian, a clever burst of speed allowed Neymar to get clear and pull the ball back across the face of goal where Pedro was waiting to direct it past Forster.
Five minutes later Neymar was on the other end of the assist, re-directing a short range pass from Martin Montoya past Forster to give Barca a 3-0 lead at the break.
Lennon pulled his lone striker at halftime, adding another defender with the idea apparently being to try and keep the score respectable. It didn't work so well.
Just three minutes into the second half, Neymar played a back heel pass to Xavi that was immediately returned as the striker raced at an angle into the Celtic area. With a defender closing quickly, Neymar slid and placed a curling shot into the top left corner of the net to extend the lead to 4-0.
Neymar completed his hat trick in the 58th minute, dancing past Ambrose before firing a low shot past Forster that deflected off a Celtic player on the line and into the back of the net. Despite the deflection, the ball was going in no matter what so there was no question of an own-goal being awarded.
Cristian Tello got in on the fun in the 72nd minute, adding a sixth goal to Barca's tally, but the shutout wasn't to be. Georgios Samaras scored a consolation goal in the 88th minute, which I guess is nice if you think 6-1 sounds better than 6-0. Either way, it was a rough day for Celtic.
Barcelona: Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets (Song 73'), Xavi, Roberto, Pedro, Sánchez (Tello 63'), Neymar (Dongou 81')
Goals: Piqué (7'), Pedro (39'), Neymar (44', 48', 58'), Tello (72')
Celtic: Forster, Matthews (Stokes 82'), Ambrose, Van Dijk, Lustig, Biton (Commons 69'), Brown, Samaras, Boerrigter, Ledley, Pukki (Mulgrew 46')
Goals: Samaras (88')