By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Lionel Messi lifted Barcelona out of their recent slump with two goals in a vintage display as his side survived a tenacious Tottenham Hotspur fightback to claim a 4-2 victory in Champions League Group B on Wednesday.
The mercurial Argentine lit up Wembley Stadium throughout a compelling clash and had a hand in Philippe Coutinho’s second-minute opener before being involved again as Ivan Rakitic made it 2-0 after 28 minutes with a superb volley.
Twice Messi was denied by the woodwork shortly after halftime before Harry Kane’s clinical 52nd-minute strike gave Tottenham renewed hope.
Messi made it 3-1 with a cool finish but Erik Lamela’s deflected 66th-minute shot set up a pulsating finale in which Spurs came close to snatching a point that had seemed unlikely.
Barcelona were in danger of throwing away all their good work as Spurs poured forward but Messi calmly completed the job with his second goal in stoppage-time.
The Catalan club have now scored eight times in their opening two group games, with Messi getting five of them.
Barcelona have six points while Tottenham have it all to do if they are to reach the last 16 having lost their opening two matches.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)