Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in his first Champions League game for Barcelona, as Xavi Hernandez’s side defeated Viktoria Plzen 5-1 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Barca, who failed to advance past the group stage last season, also had Franck Kessie and Ferran Torres score in an impressive performance.
Lewandowski has now scored eight goals in five appearances in all competitions for his new team.
“I knew it was going to be important to adapt right from the first game here,” he told uefa.com
“Today is my wife’s birthday, so the goals and the celebration were both for her.” It means a lot that she was in the stadium on her birthday. Something incredible for me.”
The five-time European champions will face more difficult tests in Group C, which also includes Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Following Bayern’s 2-0 win at the San Siro, the Catalan giants visit the Allianz Arena next Tuesday in a true test of how far they have come in the last year.
Kessie nodded the ball home in the 13th minute after Jules Kounde had headed Ousmane Dembele’s corner back across goal.
It was the Ivorian midfielder’s first goal for the club since joining from AC Milan during the summer transfer window.
Midway through the first half, Ansu Fati nearly doubled the lead, but his effort was saved by visiting goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek.
Plzen were awarded a penalty in the 25th minute after Andreas Christensen brought down Jhon Mosquera, but the referee reversed his decision after a VAR review and awarded Barca a free kick.
With his 87th goal in the Champions League and first for his new club, Lewandowski moved ahead of Karim Benzema into third place all-time.
In the 34th minute, the 34-year-old curled a low shot into the bottom corner from just inside the area. Jan Sykora headed in Vaclav Jemelka’s cross shortly before the break to give the Czechs a lifeline.
Plzen, on the other hand, couldn’t stay within a goal until halftime, when Lewandowski stooped unnoticed to head Dembele’s cross over the line.
In the 67th minute, Lewandowski completed his sixth Champions League hat-trick with a fine low strike from distance.
“I’m not sure if Robert is the best striker in Europe, but he’s the best for us,” Xavi said.
“He helps us play out, he presses, he brings us a lot of attack solutions.” Total maturity as a player, and absolutely stunning. He scored a hat-trick, but it was his teamwork that impressed me.”
Xavi’s men added a fifth goal soon after, with Torres drilling a brilliant volley on the turn into the top corner from Dembele’s chipped pass.
Plzen avoided further damage, but they face a difficult task in their remaining five group games, beginning with a home game against Inter.