Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino pinpointed where it all went wrong for his side in their 4-2 defeat to Barcelona at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris, back from injury, gifted Philippe Coutinho Barca’s opener inside two minutes with a reckless dash from goal before Ivan Rakitic put them further in control before half-time with a spectacular 20-yard strike.
Messi hit the post twice before Harry Kane gave the home side hope with a clever low finish before the Argentine superstar slid home from close range to restore Barcelona’s advantage.
Erik Lamela’s deflected effort set up a grandstand finish but it was fitting that the superb Messi had the final word with a simple strike after a clever Luis Suarez dummy.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Pochettino said: “It was a tough game. When you concede in less than two minutes, it changes completely everything. The emotion becomes tough when you are playing against Barcelona and players like Messi and Suarez.
“That is why I want to congratulate the team, because we were always on the game, always fighting, never giving up. I feel so proud. I’m disappointed with the result but the effort was massive.
“But against a team like Barcelona, this type of game when you play at that level, to give that advantage to a team like Barcelona is so difficult to come back from.
“The most important thing was our character.”
On the error from Lloris that gifted Barca their opening goal, Pochettino added: “It was a situation that we knew before. [We made] a few mistakes, that is clear. In football when you make a mistake at this level you concede a goal. I’m disappointed for that but we needed to keep going.”
As for the display of Messi, the Spurs chief had nothing but praise for he fellow countryman: “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.”
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