Wednesday 3rd October 2018

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Spurs 2 Barcelona 4

Spurs have been left with a Champions League mountain to climb after a 4-2 defeat against Barcelona left them six points adrift of the qualification places.

Lionel Messi scored twice and put on yet another stunning European performances as Barcelona ultimately outclassed their hosts, despite two second half strikes briefly giving Spurs hope.

This was always going to be a struggle, with Spurs relying on a midfield pairing of Harry Winks and Vincent Wanyama in the absence of Moussa Dembele, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.

The home side should at least have been boosted by the return of captain Hugo Lloris in goal, but the Frenchman was at fault for Spurs’ nightmare start, too keen to get into the action after more than a month out.

It started, inevitably, with Messi, playing quarterback and dissecting the Spurs back line with a pass that evaded Kieran Trippier by all of three inches.

Jordi Alba was the reciever, racing in behind as Lloris needlessly hurtled out of his goal to meet him, but was still barely in shot by the time Alba stroked inside for Philipe Coutinho, stranding the ‘keeper.

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The Brazilian still had work to do, with three white shirts on the cover, but lashed clinically into the bottom corner.

Lloris was a mere spectator for the second too, though this time no one could blame him. A flowing move finished with Coutinho hooking towards the edge of the penalty area, where Ivan Rakitic arrived to exhibit as fine a display of technique on the volley as you will see in the Champions League this season, lashing a rocket in off the upright for 2-0.

But for the upright, Barcelona would have been out of sight, as Messi rattled the same post twice in three minutes after the interval, but moments later Tottenham’s own super star, Harry Kane, finally got a sniff.

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The Englishman had endured a frustrating first half, but here he was, in his natural habitat, twisting Semedo and bending into the far corner to halve the defecit.

No sooner had Spurs grabbed a lifeline, than Messi had snatched it away again. It was magic again, too, the Argentine finding Alba down the left and stroking his return pass into the bottom corner after two glorious dumbies from Luis Suarez and Coutinho.

This was a treat, with Messi and Brazilian youngster Arthur particularly irresistible, and yet once again Spurs found a way to get at a Barcelona backline that has leaked goals this season, as Clement Lenglet deflected Erik Lamela’s shot past Marc-André ter Stegen to makle it 3-2.

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It took until the 90th minute for Barca to finally seal the deal once and for all, Messi again tucking home after an Alba pass and a Suarez dummy, but the real damage had been done elsewhere, with Inter Milan’s win in Eindhoven leaving Spurs six points off the pace in group B.

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