Watch all the key plays as Barcelona faces Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

By Avi Creditor
October 24, 2018

Barcelona continued life without Lionel Messi and had no problem when hosting Inter Milan in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday.

Messi's lineup replacement, Rafinha, scored the opener, and Jordi Alba added an insurance goal late in a 2-0 win that sends Barcelona to the top of Group B all by itself, three points clear of Inter and eight points clear of both PSV and Tottenham with the group stage halfway done.

Messi fractured his arm vs. Sevilla over the weekend and is expected to miss three weeks, leaving Barcelona without its talisman for the key bout vs. the resurgent Serie A power, but Rafinha filled in capably, turning in Luis Suarez's brilliant cross for the eventual game-winner.

It was former Barcelona product and current Inter Milan star Mauro Icardi who had the game's first half chance, settling a ball in the box and turning to fire on frame, only to have Gerard Pique come up with the block in the ninth minute.

Without Messi, Barcelona was slow to probe Inter's back line in the opening half hour, with the best opportunity coming on a long-range blast from Coutinho that missed the mark.

The action picked up for Barcelona a couple of minutes later, when Samir Handanovic was called into action to deny center back Clement Lenglet's header from inside the box off a corner kick.

Barcelona's best piece of buildup came in the 28th minute, with Coutinho, Rafinha and Alba combining before Suarez laid off a perfect slip pass for Rafinha in the center of the box. He hit a weak effort on frame, though, and Handanovic made the rather easy save.

Rafinha made good on his next chance, though. After winning the ball in the midfield, Rafinha found Suarez to the right. The Uruguayan returned the favor with a perfect cross to the center of the box, and Rafinha converted in the 32nd minute.

Coutinho nearly doubled the lead just before halftime, with his free kick taking a deflection off the wall and narrowly missing the left post with the final touch of the first half. 

Midway through the second half, Barcelona had another chance to score off a free kick, but Marcelo Brozovic wisely anticipated that Suarez would try to go under the leaping Inter wall and slid in behind to come up with the block.

Barcelona got the insurance strike it was seeking in the 83rd minute, with Jordi Alba getting in behind, demonstrating an ideal first touch and hitting a precision strike by Handanovic to make it 2-0.

Here were the lineups for both sides:

Both sides return to action in the Champions League against one another in two weeks' time, with Inter Milan hosting the rematch at the San Siro on Nov. 6.

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