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 are on the brink of qualification but Inter can expect to join them as they have a five-point cushion from winless PSV and Tottenham.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Ter Stegen, Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur (Vidal),Rafinha (Semedo), Suárez, Coutinho
Dembélé, Cillessen, Silva de Oliveira, El Haddadi, Brandáriz
Goals: Rafinha (32), Alba (82)
Handanovic, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Asamoah, Vecino, Brozovic, Candreva (Politano), Valero (Martinez), Perisic (Keita), Icardi
Vrsaljko, de Vrij, Ranocchia, Padelli
Bookings: Skriniar, Brozovic, Martinez
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan.
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.