Champions League: Messi inspires Barcelona to Tottenham win

BY: bbc.com

Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona to an enthralling victory over Tottenham at Wembley which condemned the English side to a second Champions League defeat from two games this season.

Messi scored twice in an excellent attacking display from the Spanish champions, who were twice pegged back in a breathless second half.

Former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho put Barcelona ahead in the second minute at the end of an excellent team move involving Messi, although returning Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris helped the visitors by rushing off his line.

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic then doubled the lead by firing home an acrobatic half-volley off the inside of the post from 20 yards.

But Harry Kane halved Spurs' deficit in the 52nd minute, shortly after Messi had twice hit the post for the visitors.


Messi then put Barca 3-1 in front at the end of another flowing move, only for Erik Lamela to pull another back for Spurs with a deflected shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi sealed the result in the 90th minute with a calm finish which gives his side a second successive Champions League win and sees them top Group B.

Mauricio Pochettino's side meanwhile are third but six points behind Barcelona and second-placed Inter Milan, and face a difficult task to progress to the knockout stages.

Messi's two goals in north London take him to five goals in two games in this year's Champions League and mean he has 10 goals in 10 games this season.

But it was not just his goal scoring at Wembley which stood out in a sensational display.

For his side's opener the Argentine played a perfect pass from halfway between Spurs full-back Kieran Tripper and centre-back Toby Alderweireld to team-mate Jordi Alba, who then squared for Coutinho to finish.

At times Messi dropped deeper than his usual forward role and controlled the game from midfield, while he also looked eager to press and track back to win the ball.

He started the move for his first goal - Barca's third - with another excellent pass to Alba from deep before two team-mates dummied the resulting cross, allowing Messi to guide the ball home.

He could have had more goals but twice saw the ball rebound off the post after two trademark drifting runs from the right.

Messi's record v English clubs - the best stats
Barcelona have won nine of their past 11 Champions League matches against English clubs (D1 L1), with this their first win in England since February 2016, when they beat Arsenal 2-0.
Messi has scored more goals (22) and provided more assists (six) against English clubs in the Champions League than against sides from any other nation.
Coutinho was involved in as many goals in his opening 28 minutes against Spurs for Barcelona (one goal, one assist) as he was in his 715 minutes for Liverpool against them (two goals).
Coutinho's goal after 92 seconds was Barcelona's earliest Champions League goal since Mark van Bommel in November 2005 v Panathinaikos (36 seconds).
Barcelona's Gerard Pique made his 100th Champions League appearance in this match, becoming the 10th Spaniard to reach this landmark.
Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela's strike was the 8,000th scored in Champions League history.

Credit: The BBC