Lionel Messi received a helping hand from Luis Suarez’s clever dummies to score twice and ensure Barcelona overcame Tottenham 4-2 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Suarez wisely left the ball drift past him to Messi to claim the second-half goals this virtuoso performance warranted on the Argentine’s return to Wembley Stadium seven years after scoring in the final when Barcelona beat Manchester United.
In front of 82,137 fans, Messi was also selfless, helping to set up Philippe Coutinho to score into a net unguarded by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the second minute.
While the opener owed much to Lloris rashly rushing off his line, the second was pure artistry. Messi also started the move that saw Suarez and Coutinho combine to set up Ivan Rakitic to volley superbly into the top of the net.
When Messi hit the post twice at the start of the second half it looked like he wouldn’t come close to repeating his hat trick in the 4-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven in the group opener.
Harry Kane pulled one back in the 52nd minute, but Messi started and completed the move four minutes later that restored Barcelona’s two-goal lead.
By the time Jordi Alba virtually cut the ball back from the byline, Messi had darted into the box and both Coutinho and Suarez left it for the five-time world player of the year to finish.
The prospect of a Tottenham comeback flickered again when Erik Lamela netted in the 66th but Messi had the final say in the 90th to snuff out the resistance. As Suarez let the ball go past him, the unmarked Messi tapped into an open net.
It left Tottenham on zero points in Group B. Inter Milan, which beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1, joined Barcelona on six points.
The quality of the field didn’t match the spectacle in a stadium where this game wasn’t even due to be played.
With the rebuilding of White Hart Lane overrunning, Wembley is still Tottenham’s temporary home. It’s not just the additional burden from unexpected Tottenham games accounting for the brown, dead grass across the center. It is less than two weeks since a boxing ring was constructed for the Anthony Joshua-Alexander Povetkin world heavyweight title fight.
Inter rally again to beat PSV 2-1
EINDHOVEN: Inter Milan rallied from a goal down to beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1 on Wednesday and record its second straight come-from-behind win in the Champions League.
Pablo Rosario gave PSV the lead in the 27th minute with a dipping 25-meter shot over Samir Handanovic. Radja Nainggolan equalized one minute before halftime, capitalizing on a fumble by PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.
Zoet was also involved in Mauro Icardi’s winning goal on the hour, colliding with defender Daniel Schwaab as both PSV players tried to cut out a long pass by Matias Vecino. The ball bounced free to leave the Inter captain with a simple tap-in as Zoet looked on, holding his head in his hands.
At the other end, Handanovic made a great reflex save in the 79th minute to preserve Inter’s lead, diving to his left to block an athletic overhead kick by substitute Donyell Malen.
“It was a good match, we showed character and a good mentality,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.
The victory took Inter to second in Group B, behind Barcelona on goal difference after Lionel Messi’s team beat Tottenham 4-2 at Wembley.
It was another resilient display from Spalletti’s team, which staged a late rally two weeks ago to beat Tottenham 2-1 in their first Group B match, with Icardi scoring a spectacular volley for the equalizer.
Inter, with Dutchman Stefan de Vrij at center back, defended strongly and Nainggolan dominated the midfield battles to give Inter the edge in a fast-paced, open match that saw plenty of chances from both teams.
PSV, the 1988 European champion, has now failed to win any of its last eight Champions League matches and has no points after two defeats this season, following a 4-0 loss to Barcelona. Mark van Bommel’s team next plays Tottenham in a matchup of two teams yet to win a point in Group B.
PSV took the lead when Mexico forward Hirving Lozano cut in from the left and tried to find space to shoot. When Inter defenders closed him down, he slid the ball to Rosaria whose shot sailed over Handanovic.
Referee Milorad Mazic showed Handanovic a yellow card in the 41st minute when the keeper rushed out of his area and handled the ball to end a promising PSV attack.
Minutes later, Inter was level after Zoet failed to gather a shot by Kwadwo Asamoah and then blocked a follow-up effort by Icardi only to see the ball fall to Nainggolan, who fired low into the corner.
Gaston Pereira came close to putting PSV back ahead four minutes after the break but his curling shot hit the outside of the post.
But it was Icardi who found the net after Zoet’s collision with Schwaab to seal Inter’s victory.
Midfielder Matteo Politano showed a safe pair of hands in the second half when he caught a plastic beaker of beer thrown onto the pitch.