Lionel Messi was back in the starting line-up, but it was Luis Suarez who proved to be the Camp Nou’s champion with a brace to earn Barcelona a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Inter Milan and him the Carolina Herrera hero of the day.
Love him, hate him, you can’t help but rate him, especially in the twilight of his career where he’s had his struggles with both form and fitness.
It was far from vintage from the hosts – second best for long periods – but it was vintage Suarez, who delivered two sublime finishes to rescue his side.
After a dull draw – that they were lucky to get – in Dortmund on matchday one, Barca were staring down the barrel of just one point from their first two Group F games.
In a group containing Inter and Dortmund, that could have proved precarious. And while there was much to admonish the Blaugrana for on Wednesday, Suarez papered over the cracks with two pristine finishes in the second half.
For a long time it looked as if an Argentine – no, not Messi – would steal the headlines after Lautaro Martinez made it 1-0 to become the first Inter player to score at the Camp Nou since 1970.
But Suarez acrobatically volleyed Barca level just before the break and then calmly took a Messi pass in his stride, striding through the away defence and slotting past Samir Handanovic and stealing the show.
AGE – 32
SHOTS – 3
ON TARGET – 3
GOALS – 2
MINUTES – 90
It’s hardly desperate times for the Spanish giants, but they certainly needed a lift after a patchy start to the season – both domestically and abroad.
And, with Messi nowhere near his best and perhaps unable to inspire his side like only he can, responsibility fell on Antoine Griezmann and Suarez’s shoulders to step up.
This task was made even taller when Martinez gave the visitors the lead. But while Griezmann continues to toil in Barca blue and burgundy, Suarez basked in the heat and intensity of the moment to deliver two sizzling strikes.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, as the veteran Uruguayan put in a clinical display of finishing to rob the Nerazzurri of a historic victory.
He’s been dogged by jibes of being in a rapid decline, yet two finishes of the highest order, on the grandest stage, will force his critics into an even quicker retreat. Suarez is still a showstopper.
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