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Suarez leads Barcelona in El Clasico rout of Real Madrid

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No Messi, no problem.

Barcelona beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 at the Nou Camp on Sunday in the latest edition of El Clasico.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Philippe Coutinho grabbed the opener and Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to do the damage with Arturo Vidal adding a late goal, as the first El Clasico since 2007 without either Lionel Messi (injured) or Cristiano Ronaldo (sold in the summer to Juventus) turned out to be a routine win for Barca.

Real fought back in the second half but Marcelo’s goal wasn’t enough to stop their rot, with Karim Benzema guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-2.

With the victory Barcelona have moved back to the top of La Liga, while Real Madrid’s woes continue as Julen Lopetegui has now lost five of his last seven games in all competitions with just one win in that sequence. Real have now lost three-straight games in La Liga.

Barcelona led 2-0 at the break, as Coutinho opened the scoring. Jordi Alba’s fine run down the left caught out Real’s defense and his cross put the ball on a plate for Coutinho to slot home to make it 1-0.

Then came some El Clasico history on the half hour mark.

Suarez went down in the box after being clipped by Raphael Varane and after using VAR for the first time in El Clasico history, the officials awarded a penalty kick which Suarez dispatched just past Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0.

After the break Real came flying out of the traps after a tactical switch saw them move into a 3-5-2 formation with Lucas Vazquez on and Varane removed. Soon, it was 2-1.

Marcelo controlled and finished with his right foot to give Real hope of mounting a comeback. And they came so close to making it 2-2 as Luka Modric sent an effort off the post which rolled across the line and out.

Barca almost went 3-1 up as Sergi Roberto found Suarez but his effort smacked the post.

Late on Benzema headed over a glorious chance from close range after a fine cross from Vazquez as Real continued to knock at the door.

But it was Suarez who delivered his second and Barcelona’s third, with the Uruguayan scoring a sublime header to make it 3-1 and end any hope of a Real comeback.

Suarez then secured his hat trick with a cheeky chip over Courtois to score his ninth goal in nine La Liga games against Real Madrid. And Vidal made it 5-1 late on as Real totally fell apart and Lopetegui’s future will surely be in huge doubt just a few months after taking over.

WATCH: Messi scores, assists, breaks arm in first 16 minutes

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UPDATE: It has been confirmed that Messi broke his right forearm and is expected to miss three weeks.

Lionel Messi lasted just 16 minutes of Barcelona’s La Liga clash with Sevilla on Saturday, but fans got their money’s worth as it was an eventful 16-minute shift from the indisputable greatest player of all time.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

In the end, though, it could prove an incredibly costly outing for the Argentine superstar — but even more so, for his club.

Minute no. 2: Messi sets up the game’s opening goal, scored by Philippe Coutinho, with a delightful first-time pass to play his Brazilian teammate into acres of space.

Minute no. 12: Messi scores Barca’s second goal, a not-so-easy finish made to look incredibly easy from outside the penalty area.

Minute no. 16: Messi braces his fall with his right arm, injuring it (perhaps severely) in the process (WATCH HERE).

It certainly doesn’t look good for the 31-year-old, as the lower portion of his arm appeared to go one direction while the upper portion appeared to go the complete opposite. Ousmane Dembele, who is the most likely recipient of first-team minutes should Messi missed an extended period of time, replaced the Barca captain a few minutes later.

Lionel Messi’s masterclass a joy to behold

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LONDON — At the home of world soccer the greatest individual player the world has ever seen put in a display worthy of winning any game.

Lionel Messi made Wembley Stadium, and Tottenham Hotspur, gasp and gawk in awe as he scored twice, hit the post twice, was involved heavily in the other two goals and led Barcelona to a thrilling 4-2 win in the UEFA Champions League.

Every single person inside Wembley felt lucky to be there to witness his brilliance up close and in the flesh. It sounds boring to repeat this because we’ve said this so many times about Messi over the past 15 years.

At many moments many Tottenham fans stood up and applauded his play. That tells you all you need to know.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned | Recap

“He‘s a fantastic player. The most important thing is why Lionel Messi in every game shows why he is Messi. His average performance is this type of game, above everything else,” Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said as he tried to claim Messi wasn’t that dangerous in the first 45 minutes. That wasn’t the case.

The truth is that we are witnessing greatness and those at Wembley on Wednesday will tell their children and grandchildren about seeing him in full flow, ripping defenders apart and doing everything with both sublime ease and supreme skill.

In truth, the 4-2 scoreline flattered Tottenham slightly. Messi and Co. were guilty of toying with Spurs a little too much before they finished them off in the closing stages.

At the age of 31 Messi’s brilliance shows no signs of slowing down as he scored goals number 561 and 562 in his 647th appearance for Barcelona.

“He [Messi] was unbelievable. When he’s in that form he’s magic to watch,” Spurs defender Kieran Trippier added.

And Spurs’ entire team spent most of Wednesday watching the magician glide across the Wembley pitch past them.

Not even a dried out patch of dodgy grass around the center circle stopped him from finding spaces then ruthlessly exposing Tottenham’s makeshift midfield and defense as Pochettino had to deal with missing several of his regulars.

Had Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen been fit, it probably wouldn’t have made much difference with Messi in this form. Not only did he dazzle in attack but he chased back, dropped deep to start attacks and his understanding with Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho in particular made every player around him better.

Every superlative in the English language used one after another would not be capable of describing just how brilliant he is and what we witness on a weekly basis.

We aren’t sure if Messi will ever get to play at Wembley again. Given the fact that England don’t have any friendly games lined up against Argentina and Tottenham aren’t due to play any more UEFA Champions League games there after December, it seems likely he won’t be back at the iconic venue.

If that was to be Messi’s final game at the spiritual home of soccer, it was a fitting tribute to the true beauty of the beautiful game.

The truth is that magic like Messi’s is never likely to be seen again.

Champions League wrap: Atleti, BVB stay perfect

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Premier League clubs may not be enjoying their tournaments so far, but there’s no doubt the Champions League is entertaining all comers this season.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur both lost on Wednesday, while Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Barcelona stayed perfect.

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 AS Monaco

Paco Alcacer, Jacob Bruun Larsen, and Marco Reus entered this match in fine form, and all found the back of the goal in the second half as BVB went 2-0 in the UCL to join its table-topping start to the Bundesliga season.

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Club Brugge

Antoine Griezmann scored in each half and Koke added a stoppage time marker as Atleti joined BVB on six points. Arnaut Groeneveld scored Brugge’s goal.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 BarcelonaRECAP

Lionel Messi was full of magic, with two goals and a hand in the other two as Barca outlasted an industrious but injury-hit Spurs side at Wembley Stadium. Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho also scored, with Harry Kane and Erik Lamela on the board for the hosts.

PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Inter Milan

The Serie A visitors went behind on an outlandish Pablo Rosario goal, but Radja Nainggolan leveled the score before halftime and Mauro Icardi nabbed a 60th minute winner to put Inter level on points with Barcelona ahead of consecutive UCL match-ups.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Napoli 1-0 LiverpoolRECAP

Lorenzo Insigne’s 90th minute winner gave Napoli a deserved three points on a day they kept the dangerous Reds from recording a shot on target.

Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 Red Star BelgradeRECAP

Neymar’s hat trick was joined by three other stars on the score sheet, as Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, and Kylian Mbappe all scored for Les Parisiens. Marko Marin‘s 74th minute goal came with his team down 5-0.

Lokomotiv Moscow 0-1 Schalke

USMNT youngster Weston McKennie scored his first senior goal for Schalke, potting an 88th minute header to give the German side a big win in Russia.

Porto 1-0 Galatasaray

Moussa Marega scored the lone goal as Porto joined Schalke on 4 points.

Three things we learned: Tottenham v. Barcelona

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LONDON — Barcelona beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in their UEFA Champions League Group B clash at Wembley on Wednesday, with Lionel Messi putting on a show at the home of soccer.

[ MORE: Messi’s masterclass a joy ]

After going 2-0 up Barcelona threatened to run away with things but goals from Harry Kane and Erik Lamela pulled it back to 2-1 and 3-2 before Messi finished off Spurs late on.

From Ivan Rakitic’s mind-boggling goal to Messi’s brilliance and the grit of Kane, this game had it all.

Here’s what we learned from a thrilling encounter at Wembley which will go down as a classic.


MESSI, KANE PUT ON A SHOW

Ahead of the game Harry Kane was ridiculed for saying he’d like to score more goals than Lionel Messi. Yes, Kane is still only 25 years old and has time on his side, but he will have his work cut out to get on Messi’s level.

Everybody who will play the game in the future will also be struggling to match him.

Messi scored twice at Wembley to cap off a fine individual display as he petrified Tottenham’s defense every time he dropped deep to pick the ball up and set off on yet another mesmeric run. He hit the post twice with near identical efforts at the start of the second half and it was one of those nights where the 31-year-old proved, once again, why he’s the best player on the planet.

He also loves to play against Premier League teams, as he’s scored more goals and provided more assists versus English teams than against teams from any other nation in European competitions.

At the other end Kane tried his best without his usual support acts of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen (both injured) and he did an admirable job. He held the ball up, tracked back and ran around like a man possessed in the second half to try and get his team back in the game. What Messi had in skill, Kane matched in grit.

And, in case you are wondering, Messi has scored 562 goals in 647 games for Barcelona, with 105 in the Champions League. He has five goals in two UCL games this season, at a rate of one goal every 36 minutes. Kane has 146 for Spurs but has scored 10 goals in his 12 UCL appearances to date.

Still a long, long, long way to go for Kane, but Tottenham’s talisman stood tall on Wednesday. But unfortunately for him, so too did Barcelona’s.


RUTHLESS BARCELONA STILL HAVE ISSUES

In recent weeks there have been murmurs that Barcelona have been struggling after three games without a win in La Liga.

They were obviously saving themselves for this game. At least in terms of their attacking prowess.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho pressed Tottenham’s shaky back line early and they never stopped. The pressure was relentless and Barcelona’s finishing was ruthless. This looked like it would be a lesson in how you kill off a game as quickly as you can, then continue to force your opponent into awkward defensive situations.

Coutinho finished with poise after Hugo Lloris‘ rush of blood to the head early on to sprint out for a ball he was never going to get to. Then Davinson Sanchez’s cheap giveaway led to Coutinho keeping the ball in play as Rakitic hammered home a stupendous volley which will live long in the memory. Messi twice hit the post after mesmerizing runs, then finished calmly for Barca’s third as that looked to be it.

But question marks do remain about their ability to seriously challenge for the Champions League title this season, despite making it two wins from two to open up group play.

The main area Barcelona can improve is defensively. Sure, they missed the pace and dominant aerial ability of the suspended Samuel Umtiti as Harry Kane in particular bullied their back line in the second half. Marc-Andre ter Stegen came up with a big save in the first half and, generally speaking, you can assume they’d still win plenty of games even if they conceded an average of one per game due to the prowess of their attack.

Messi and Co. have been written off by many already, and after going three years without winning the Champions League, they will have to clean up their defensive deficiencies to have a real chance of winning it all in Madrid in May.


TOTTENHAM’S INJURIES ERODE FLUIDITY

It is easy to blame Spurs’ haphazard display on having key players out injured, but there’s no doubt that had a huge impact on their fluidity at both ends of the pitch as they’ve started up their UCL group stage with defeats to Inter Milan and Barcelona.

They have a tough job to get out of the group now with both Barca and Inter having six points on the board.

Kane did his job, as he usually does, in holding the ball up and trying to bring others into play, but when he dropped deeper to lay balls off, neither Eriksen or Alli were there to link up with him. Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela were all looking for the ball in-behind and nobody was there to slot them in, even though Harry Winks put in a fine display to try and shut Barcelona down.

Losing Eriksen, Alli, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen through injury ahead of such a big night was a cruel blow for Pochettino. Yet, Spurs had chances and took two of them, and they showed real desire to try and drag themselves back into the game.

But the damage was done due to defensive errors from Lloris and Sanchez as they badly missed Vertonghen’s calming influence and Dembele’s presence in front of the back four.

Had Spurs had a fully fit squad to choose from, they could have nicked a point against Barcelona, or maybe even more.