Barcelona 2 Inter 0: Rafinha helps down old club as injured Messi watches on

Captain Lionel Messi sat the game out with a fractured arm but Barcelona beat Inter thanks to goals from Rafinha and Jordi Alba.

Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Rafinha (2R) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League group B match Barcelona against Inter Milan at the Camp Nou stadium.   -  afp

Rafinha scored in Lionel Messi's absence as Barcelona beat the Brazilian's former club Inter 2-0 in the Champions League to move three points clear at the top of Group B.

Messi was absent due to a fractured arm that will keep him out for three weeks but Rafinha justified being brought into the team by opening the scoring in the first half at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Luis Suarez sent in a brilliant cross and Rafinha slotted home against his old colleagues, with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic in fine form before being beaten late on by Jordi Alba.

After taking maximum points from three rounds Barca is on the brink of qualification but Inter can expect to join it as it has a five-point cushion from winless PSV and Tottenham.

Clement Lenglet scored an own goal against former club Sevilla last time out but he almost found the net at the right end, his header brilliantly blocked by Handanovic's legs.

Rafinha, making his fifth appearance of the season, wasted a clear sight of goal but he beat Handanovic with his next chance in the 32nd minute.

The right-wing cross from Suarez was begging to be tucked away and Rafinha, who spent time on loan at Inter last season, provided a simple first-time finish.

Matteo Politano missed a great chance to equalise in the 52nd minute when found by Mauro Icardi's cute backheel, but he blazed his shot over the crossbar.

As Ernesto Valverde said he hoped for in a pre-match news conference, others stepped up to address Messi's absence, a good sign with El Clasico only four days away.   -  reuters

 

Suarez was proving a thorn in Inter's side and, when he wriggled through on goal, Handanovic had to make a smart block to keep it 1-0, the goalkeeper then denying Lenglet again.

Philippe Coutinho almost extended Barca's lead but thudded a shot against the crossbar before Alba made certain of the points with a powerful finish after being sent through by Ivan Rakitic.

And a watching Messi was able to relax in the Camp Nou stands, his team-mates getting the job done without him.

What does it mean? No Messi, no problem ahead of Clasico

It would be inaccurate to say Barca did not miss Messi, with its attacking play lacking its usual fluency. But, as Ernesto Valverde said he hoped for in a pre-match news conference, others stepped up to address Messi's absence, a good sign with El Clasico only four days away. Barca is almost certain to top Group B, but Inter is very likely to qualify alongside it.

Suarez shines in Messi absence

Suarez stepped up to take extra responsibility with captain Messi watching on. The striker has not had the best start to the season, scoring only once in the last month, but he caused Inter problems with his relentless running, while the cross for Rafinha's opener was a peach.

What's next?

Messi will still be out but it's a huge game for Barca next as it hosts Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season on Sunday. The following day sees Inter in Serie A action away to Lazio. As for the Champions League, the two sides meet in the return fixture at San Siro on November 6.