Soccer

Barcelona outclasses Inter Milan without injured Lionel Messi

AP

His arm in a sling and a wide grin across his face, Lionel Messi was able to enjoy Barcelona’s beautiful play from the stands for once.

Messi cheered and lifted his good left arm in victor oy after his teammates showed more than enough class to convincingly beat Inter Milan 2-0 on Wednesday even without its best player.

Rafinha, who filled in for Messi in the starting 11, and Jordi Alba provided the goals that gave the Spanish team control of their Champions League group with nine points after a third win in as many matches.

“We all had to step up given that everyone, my players, our fans, our adversaries, we all had Messi’s absence on our minds,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We always play as a team, and we have a recognizable playing style, but Messi gives us that touch of brilliance. We hope he recovers quickly. I think everyone at the stadium missed him.”

Inter has six points in Group B following its first loss.

In the group’s other match, Tottenham conceded late to draw 2-2 at PSV Eindhoven, leaving both with only one point.

Barcelona next faces Real Madrid in the Spanish League on Sunday.