Champions League: Tottenham dazzled by Messi magic show at Wembley
Liverpool lose to late goal against Napoli as Neymar hits hat-trick for PSG
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Barcelona 4
English clubs experienced a double dose of harsh reality in the Champions League last night, when Tottenham and Liverpool both suffered defeats.
Spurs were put to the sword by Barcelona, with a particularly brilliant display from star striker Lionel Messi.
Perhaps playing at Wembley inspired the Argentine, whose two-goal performance puts his side top of group B, level on points with Inter Milan, who won 2-1 away at PSV Eindhoven.
Spurs contributed to a cracking game but their defeat - coming a fortnight after losing to Inter - leaves them pointless in the group.
After a spectacular strike from Ivan Rakitic, Philippe Coutinho gave the Catalan side a 2-0 lead at the break. Harry Kane pulled one back for Spurs on 52 minutes, but Messi then restored Barcelona’s two-goal advantage.
A tough game
Erik Lamela’s deflected goal gave the Spurs fans hope that a famous comeback could be on the cards, but a sweet dummy from Luis Suarez allowed Messi to score his second goal, and Barcelona’s fourth.
“It was a tough game,” conceded Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. “That is why I want to congratulate the team, because we were always in the game, always fighting, never giving up. I feel so proud. I’m disappointed with the result but the effort was massive.”
Barca No. 10 loves the English
Messi’s brace of goals took his tally against English clubs in the Champions League to 21 - more than against clubs from any other nation in the Uefa tournament.
“It’s never easy to play as a visitor in the Champions League, and less against a team like Tottenham,” said the Argentine. “We did a great match. The first half was extraordinary and we are happy because everything went as we wanted.”
Napoli 1 Liverpool 0: Reds get a reality check
Last season’s finalists Liverpool are still in contention for qualification from group C despite losing 1-0 in Naples.
Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a deserved winner on a night when Reds’ keeper Alisson earned his wages. The Liverpool gloveman saved well from Fabian Ruiz and Arkadiusz Milik but was unable to prevent Insigne sweeping home Jose Callejon’s cross from close range on 90 minutes.
It was a flat, sloppy performance from Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp admitted as much in his post-match interview.
“We have to blame ourselves, that’s how it is,” said the Liverpool manager. “They tried everything and were really busy, but not smart enough or calm enough in the right moments. When that happens, you lose football games.”
Tight at the top
In the group’s other game, Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Red Star Belgrade 6-1 in the French capital, with Neymar scoring a hat-trick.
The results mean Napoli top the group on four points, with Liverpool and PSG both on three points. The Reds host Belgrade on 24 October in a game that they must win to keep on course for last-16 qualification.
“It was an interesting-looking group before we started and it’s still interesting now,” said Klopp. “We want to play better than we did, but even if we don’t play brilliantly, we want a result. We weren’t as good as we could be.”
Champions League results and next fixtures
Matchday two results
- Group A: Atletico Madrid 3 Club Brugge 1; Borussia Dortmund 3 Monaco 0
- Group B: PSV Eindhoven 1 Inter Milan 2; Tottenham Hotspur 2 Barcelona 4
- Group C: Paris Saint-Germain 6 Red Star Belgrade 1; Napoli 1 Liverpool 0
- Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow 0 FC Schalke 04 1; FC Porto 1 Galatasaray 0
- Group E: AEK Athens 2 Benfica 3; Bayern Munich 1 Ajax 1
- Group F: Hoffenheim 1 Manchester City 2; Lyon 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 2
- Group G: CSKA Moscow 1 Real Madrid 0; Roma 5 Viktoria Plzen 0
- Group H: Juventus 3 Young Boys 0; Manchester United 0 Valencia 0
Matchday three of the Champions League group stage will take place on 23 and 24 October (all times UK).
Tuesday 23 October
- Group E: AEK Athens vs. Bayern Munich (5.55pm); AFC Ajax vs. Benfica (8pm)
- Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Manchester City (8pm); Hoffenheim vs. Lyon (8pm)
- Group G: Real Madrid vs. Viktoria Plzen (8pm); AS Roma vs. CSKA Moscow (8pm)
- Group H: Young Boys vs. Valencia (5.55pm); Manchester United vs. Juventus (8pm)
Wednesday 24 October
- Group A: Club Brugge vs. AS Monaco (5.55pm); Borussia Dortmund vs. Atletico Madrid (8pm)
- Group B: PSV Eindhoven vs. Tottenham (5.55pm); Barcelona vs. Inter Milan (8pm)
- Group C: Liverpool vs. Red Star Belgrade (8pm); Paris Saint-Germain vs. Napoli (8pm)
- Group D: Galatasaray vs. Schalke (8pm); Lokomotiv Moscow vs. FC Porto (8pm)