Tottenham Hotspur v FC Barcelona: Wonderful Wembley win (2-4)
Valverde’s men secure an important victory in a classic, end-to-end match in London to maintain their perfect start in the Champions League group stage
FC Barcelona returned to the scene of some of their greatest European nights and took part in a fabulous game as they beat Pochettino’s men 4-2 thanks to goals from Coutinho, Rakitic, and Messi (2). Valverde’s side are now on six points after the second group stage game and they are top of the group.
The match started with Barça pressing Tottenham back and taking control of possession. Messi then took the ball and played a defence-splitting pass through to Jordi Alba. Lloris came out to block but Jordi Alba played a clever sideways ball to Coutinho who calmly slotted into the net to put the blaugranes 1-0 up after only two minutes.
Tottenham settled down following the blaugranes’ perfect start but they weren’t being given much time on the ball due to Valverde’s players’ intense pressing. On 15 minutes, Coutinho was again involved as he turned Alderweireld and the defender brought the Brazilian down and was given a yellow card. From the free kick Lenglet headed over with Barça looking comfortable.
As the first half went on, the game became more end-to-end with Semedo alert to stop a run from Son. Soon after, three Barça defenders did well to crowd out Kane with his back to goal. Barça respond with a spell of passing which settled them back down before Tottenham cleared and Kane saw a powerful shot saved by Ter Stegen.
Rakitic wonder strike
The blaugranes managed to double the lead in the 29th minute with the Croatian midfielder appearing on the edge of the box to leap high above the ball and hit an exquisite volley in off the post, leaving Lloris with no chance.
The move preceding the goal was also lovely as, once again, Messi dinked a pass into Suárez who chested to Coutinho. He couldn’t finish but hooked the ball back to Rakitic to score Barça’s 600th goal in Europe’s top competition.
Within a minute, Ter Stegen reacted quickly to save from a Piqué rebound as the home side went on a rare foray forward. Barça responded by settling in to passing and probing, with Arthur and Messi prominent, in a dominant end to a first half they bossed.
The second half kicked off with Messi bursting into life as he ran straight for goal going past two defenders before shooting onto the bottom of the post as Barça almost repeated their perfect start to the first half.
The Argentinian embarked on another run and unbelievably hit the same post in exactly the same place before Harry Kane went up the other end of the pitch and made it 2-1. The English striker received possession on the left-hand side of the box and he dragged the ball back before curling a shot past the goalkeeper.
Third time’s a charm
Not even two minutes later, Messi arrived from deep to meet a pull-back after Suárez dummied. The magician had hit the woodwork twice and this time he wasn’t to be denied as he stroked into the same bottom left corner and re-established his side’s two-goal advantage (3-1, 54 min).
Tottenham hit back as they worked the ball to Lamela. He took a touch and curled a shot that deflected in over Ter Stegen’s dive. Barça’s lead was back down to one and they needed to take control of the game. Busquets picked up a yellow for bringing down Lamela as the pace of the match went up several gears.
Messi makes it safe
Trippier put in a dangerous ball which Semedo just managed to clear. Lucas Moura then saw a shot saved by Ter Stegen. Rafinha came on to replace the impressive Coutinho for a cameo. Barça had a few difficult moments, with Lenglet blocking excellently late on, but they were able to defend resolutely before Messi finished the match game with two goals. Jordi Alba won the ball back and fed the captain who made no mistake to make it safe.
Wednesday’s game against the team from London was the Club’s 300th Champions League fixture and they will now turn their attention to the La Liga match with Valencia on Sunday 7 October at 8.45pm CET.