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‘Average’ Messi still fantastic, says Pochettino

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Barcelona’s Argentinian striker Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring their third goal during the Champions League group B football match match between Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona at Wembley Stadium in London, on October 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino lauded Lionel Messi’s consistent brilliance after the Argentine dealt a huge blow to Spurs’ Champions League hopes with a double in Barcelona’s 4-2 win at Wembley on Wednesday.

Messi also hit the woodwork twice in a virtuoso display as Barca bounced back from a three-game winless run in La Liga to move alongside Inter Milan at the top of Group B with maximum points from two games.

Spurs, by contrast, have lost both of their opening two fixtures and have a mountain to climb to reach the last 16.

“He’s a fantastic player. The most important (thing) is Messi shows in every game why he is Messi,” said Pochettino.

“His average performance is this type of game. He’s always above everything.”

Spurs battled back bravely in the second-half with goals from Harry Kane and Erik Lamela twice reducing Barcelona’s lead to a solitary goal.

But Pochettino lamented Philippe Coutinho’s second-minute opener when Spurs captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was caught out of position on his first appearance after a five-week injury layoff.

“When you start 1-0 down from the changing room that is difficult for the players,” added Pochettino.

“The players understand this type of game when you play at this level, it is so difficult to come back.

“The most important (thing) is the character we showed.”

Coutinho described playing alongside Messi as an “honour” as Barca again came away from Wembley with happy memories having won the European Cup twice at the home of English football in 1992 and 2011.

“Everything Messi does on the field is unpredictable,” said the Brazilian.

“To play with him is an honour. He’s always doing something new.”


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