Barcelona enjoy convincing win over Inter Milan without Messi

Round-up: Di Maria’s late equaliser denies Napoli in Paris; Borussia Dortmund put four past Atletico

Rafinha  scores for Barcelona in the  Champions League Group B  match against Inter Milan  at the Nou Camp. Photograph: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

Rafinha scores for Barcelona in the Champions League Group B match against Inter Milan at the Nou Camp. Photograph: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

 

Barcelona 2 Inter Milan 0

Barcelona came through their first test without the injured Lionel Messi, earning a convincing 2-0 win at home to Inter Milan to take control of Champions League Group B on Wednesday.

Midfielder Rafinha opened the scoring against the club where he spent the latter half of last season, bursting through the middle and finding Luis Suarez, then turning the Uruguayan’s cross in on the volley in the 32nd minute.

Spanish left back Jordi Alba killed off Inter’s resistance late in the second half with a thumping low finish, snapping the Italian side’s winning streak of seven games in all competitions and sealing a third straight win in the Champions League for Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Barca top Group B with nine points while Inter are second on six, and a victory for the Catalans in the return fixture at the San Siro in two weeks’ time will practically seal their place in the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition.

With Argentine talisman Messi watching on from the stands, his right arm in a cast after fracturing it against Sevilla on Saturday, the Catalans initially appeared to lack some of their usual swagger.

They survived an early scare when a low cross fell to Inter captain Mauro Icardi but the Argentine, a former Barca youth player, sent the ball over the bar.

Barca soon began to dominate the game, however, with Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo dictating the pace from deep in a manner reminiscent of former midfield great Xavi. He helped Barca monopolise possession and starved Inter of any memorable chances before the break.

The Italians reacted well after the interval and had a couple of dangerous spells without troubling Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

But Barca quickly retook control and Alba wrapped up a win which should give them plenty of confidence heading into Sunday’s ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid and, above all, the belief they do not need Messi on the pitch to beat one of Europe’s best sides.

Paris Saint Germain 2 Napoli 2

Angel Di Maria curled in a stoppage-time equaliser as Paris St Germain twice came from behind to force a 2-2 draw at home to Napoli in a pulsating tie at the Parc des Princes .

Napoli went ahead in the Group C game with a Lorenzo Insigne goal in the 29th minute before PSG, who have won their opening 10 games in Ligue 1, levelled when Mario Rui deflected into his own goal in the 61st minute.

An opportunist goal by Dries Mertens put Napoli back in front in the 77th minute but they were denied a shock win when Di Maria collected the ball on the edge of the area and curled a delightful effort past David Ospina in the third minute of stoppage time.

Napoli have five points from three games and PSG are on four with Liverpool top with six.

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund scores his team’s third goal during the Group A match against Atletico Madrid at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. Photograph: Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images
Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund scores his team’s third goal during the Group A match against Atletico Madrid at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. Photograph: Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund 4 Atletico Madrid 0

Borussia Dortmund cruised past Atletico Madrid 4-0 with two goals from substitute Raphael Guerreiro helping propel them to the top of Group A.

The Germans, unbeaten in all competitions so far this season but without injured in-form striker Paco Alcacer, grabbed the lead through Axel Witsel in the 38th minute with a slightly deflected effort.

Apart from an Antoine Griezmann effort, Atletico never threatened in the first half, but came out battling after the break with Saul Niguez rattling the crossbar with a curled shot in the 52nd.

Saul had another three chances in the following minutes as Atletico seemingly edged closer to an equaliser and kept the Germans on the backfoot.

But Dortmund timed their second goal to perfection to take some of the pressure off, with substitute Guerreiro, who had come on in the 63rd, tapping in from close range from an Achraf Hakimi pass.

Hakimi then delivered another assist for another substitute Jadon Sancho to grab Dortmund’s third with the English player’s first European goal in the 83rd before Guerreiro completed their victory with his second of the evening six minutes later.

Atletico had hit the woodwork for the second time in the 78th minute but had to accept a crushing loss, their first Champions League defeat of the season.

Dortmund, who have yet to concede a goal in the competition, are top on nine points from three games, with Atletico second on six.

Club Brugge 1 Monaco 1

Monaco earned the first point of their disappointing Champions League campaign in their first European outing under Thierry Henry but their 1-1 draw at Club Brugge still left both sides with little chance of making the knockout stages.

Both Monaco, semi-finallists just two seasons ago, and their Belgian opponents face missing out on the top two places in Group A, having both previously lost to Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their opening two games.

In former French international Henry’s second match in charge, the Ligue 1 outfit at least halted their run of five straight defeats but they have now gone 12 games without victory since a win at Nantes on the French league season’s opening day.

Struggling Monaco opened the scoring through 18-year-old Moussa Sylla after a 31st-minute counter-attack set up by Russian international Aleksandr Golovin’s surging run.

But the lead lasted only eight minutes before Brugge’s Brazilian centre forward Wesley equalised with a header from Hans Vanaken’s cross, catching debutant goalkeeper Loic Badiashile out of position.

The 20-year-old was Monaco’s fourth goalkeeper in as many matches as the club battle with an injury crisis, heightened after midfielder Stevan Jovetic limped off after just nine minutes with a suspected groin injury.

Brugge goalkeeper Karlo Letica made a point-blank stop from Golovin in the 72nd minute to keep the score level before the home side’s 18-year-old substitute Lois Openda missed a sitter with virtually the last touch of the match

The two clubs meet again in Monaco on November 6th in their next group game where a place in the Europa League early next year is likely to be at stake.

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