Valverde praises Messi impact in Barcelona victory

Getty Images

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde praised the impact of Lionel Messi in the club's come-from-behind Champions League win over Inter.

Messi returned from injury to help LaLiga champions Barca to a 2-1 victory against Inter at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

The Barca captain made just his second start of the season, having missed the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury sustained against Villarreal, and he set up Luis Suarez for the 84th-minute winner.

Discussing Messi's performance post-match, Valverde told reporters: "It is the first game that he played in full, also a game with a significant physical burden on the opponent and the competition.

"In any play he can help you even when he is tired. Messi has not done a pre-season like the others, so he has to catch up."

Messi was at the centre of Barca's match-winner, with the five-time Ballon d'Or champion finding Suarez on the edge of the box as his Uruguayan team-mate slotted home six minutes from the end.

Valverde added: "In the end he made a fantastic play, but he was more tired than at the beginning."

Suarez silenced his critics with a brace – making it three goals in two games – as Barca rallied past Antonio Conte's Inter on home soil.

Lautaro Martinez had silenced the crowd with his second-minute opener, but Suarez restored parity approaching the hour mark before getting Barca's Group F campaign up and running following their goalless draw at Borussia Dortmund.

"Strikers live in the danger zone," Valverde said. "They play in the most difficult area as they are always surrounded by defenders and need to solve the situations against the defenders they have onto them, so that is hard.

"Sometimes you cannot succeed, like one week ago, but then he scored once for La Liga and twice for Champions League. Luis has probed for long time already what he is capable of, so he keeps doing so."

Barca have struggled to convince this season amid growing pressure on Valverde and the Spanish boss added: "Of course this is an important win as it was a very important game, given how tight the group table was after the first match-day and also for the upcoming games.

"From the very first minute you all saw how important this game was for both teams given the intensity we both showed. For us, after drawing our first match playing a not-good game, I hope this comeback will help us for the upcoming fixtures."