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.
Source: The Associated Press