Back at the scene of his 2011 Champions League final triumph, Lionel Messi delivered another display of artistry at Wembley Stadium.
Messi’s two goals helped Barcelona fight off Tottenham Hotspur’s second-half resurgence and secured a 4-2 win for the visitors on Wednesday.
The victory was built on much more than Messi’s virtuoso performance. Luis Suarez’s clever dummies set up both goals from Messi as he allowed the ball to drift past him into the path of the Argentine forward.
The five-time World Player of the Year could even afford to hit the post twice before scoring in the second half as the five-time European champions made it two wins out of two in Group B.
“Everything he does is so unpredictable,” Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho said. “I’m thrilled for him that he scored twice.”
“We had a few problems, but we solved them,” Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said.
“What we had to do was take risks,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “When you play against Barcelona, you can have different players and different tactics, but the result will be the same.”
Tottenham’s task was made even harder with three core players out injured: Defender Jan Vertonghen, midfielder Dele Alli and playmaker Christian Eriksen, who all featured 11 months ago in a victory over European champions Real Madrid at Wembley.
In the first half, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris rushed off his line to confront Jordi Alba, who squared for Philippe Coutinho to score within two minutes of kickoff, before Suarez and Coutinho combined to set up Ivan Rakitic to volley superbly into the top of the net.
For Tottenham, striker Harry Kane pulled one back in the 52nd minute to make it 2-1 and Erik Lamela netted with a deflected strike in the 66th.
After losing their group opener, Tottenham are on zero points along with PSV Eindhoven, who lost 2-1 to Inter.
In other games, Borussia Dortmund defeated AS Monaco 3-0; Atletico Madrid beat Club Brugge KV 3-1; Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Red Star Belgrade 6-1; SSC Napoli edged Liverpool 1-0; Lokomotiv Moscow went down to Schalke 04 1-0; and Porto defeated Galatasaray SK 1-0.
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