Messi masterful as Barcelona renews love affair with Wembley

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 04, 2018 08:29 AM
Messi masterful as Barcelona renews love affair with Wembley
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, right, scores his sides fourth goal past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, center, during the Champions League Group B soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona at Wembley Stadium in London, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Lionel Messi and Neymar put on separate masterclasses in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Mohamed Salah lacked the spark to lift Liverpool.

Messi scored twice, helped create two more with perfect passes, and had two shots strike a post in Barcelona's 4-2 win over Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

Neymar went one better with three goals in PSG's 6-1 rout of overmatched Red Star Belgrade. The French champion's other superstar forward, Kylian Mbappe, also scored.

Salah was the star of Liverpool's run to the final last season but has made a slow start this time, and the entire team failed to get a single shot on target in a 1-0 loss at Napoli. The winning goal came in the 90th-minute from Lorenzo Insigne.

Barcelona's impressive display extended the team's perfect record at England's national stadium — four wins spread across 26 years, including the Messi-inspired 2011 Champions League final victory.

Messi now has five goals after two group games while Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to score for Juventus.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in Atletico Madrid's 3-1 win over Belgian champion Club Brugge.

WEMBLEY WONDERS

Barcelona has a love affair with Wembley. Its first European Cup was won there in 1992, against Sampdoria, and so was the fourth of its five European titles in 2011, against Manchester United.

Now both North London rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, have been beaten there by Barcelona in Champions League group-stage games.

It took just 92 seconds for Philippe Coutinho to open the scoring past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who returned from a five-week injury absence. Ivan Rakitic added a stunning volley in the 28th.

Messi hit the post before Harry Kane halved the deficit in the 52th, but the Argentine forward restored the two-goal advantage within four minutes with a deft shot. Tottenham hit back through Messi's Argentina teammate Erik Lamela.

In the 90th minute, Messi was set up by Luis Suarez's smart decision to let the ball roll past him, and extended his record against English clubs to 22 goals in 29 games.

The game was played on a field that was far from a typically pristine Wembley surface. Two weeks after the venue hosted boxer Anthony Joshua's defense of his world heavyweight title, the center of the field had patches of brown grass.

In a stellar week for Argentina forwards, Mauro Icardi scored the decider in Inter Milan's 2-1 win at PSV Eindhoven.

Inter's second straight comeback win, after beating Tottenham 2-1 two weeks ago, was fueled by Radja Nainggolan's leveler early in the second half.

Group B co-leaders Barcelona and Inter next face each other in back-to-back games, in Spain on Oct. 24 and Italy on Nov. 6.

STAR POWER

Neymar followed Paulo Dybala of Juventus and Roma's Edin Dzeko in scoring a Champions League hat trick this week.

The Brazilian's star turn on home turf at Parc des Princes served as a riposte to critics of his lackluster performance when PSG lost 3-2 at Liverpool two weeks ago.

Neymar started and finished the 6-1 rout with stunning free kicks, in the 20th and 81st minutes, and also scored in the 22nd.

Red Star is a shadow of the club that was the 1991 European champion, and could hardly resist PSG's star-studded attacking quartet.

Edinson Cavani netted with a deflected shot in the 37th, Angel Di Maria made it 4-0 just before halftime, and Kylian Mbappe tapped in a fifth goal in the 70th.

Liverpool's high energy style against PSG was missing in Naples, and Dries Mertens almost won it with a shot that struck the crossbar minutes before Insigne struck.

"We never lost control," Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We were always very focused, above all when defending and allowed Liverpool practically nothing."

Napoli leads Group C with four points and goes to Paris next.

AN AMERICAN IN MOSCOW

Midfielder Weston McKennie picked a good time to score his first goal for Schalke — an 88th-minute header to give the German club a 1-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

The 20-year-old Texan leapt unmarked at the far post to connect with Yevhen Konoplyanka's corner. It spoiled the Russian title holder's first home Champions League game since 2003.

Also in Group D, Porto joined Schalke on four points by beating visiting Galatasaray 1-0 with Moussa Marega's 49th minute goal.

ATLETICO'S QUEST

Atletico Madrid played its first home game in this season's Champions League that ends with the final in the same Metropolitano Stadium on June 1.

Antoine Griezmann twice gave Atletico the lead in a 3-1 win, though Brugge's leveler in the 39th, a curling long-range shot by Arnaut "Danjuma" Groeneveld was the standout goal.

Atletico next travels to Borussia Dortmund on Oct. 24 for a meeting of two teams with six points.

Dortmund eased past Monaco 3-0 with second-half goals from Jacob Bruun Larsen, Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus. Alcacer scored minutes after missing a penalty kick which struck the crossbar.

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