Barcelona beat Inter Milan to tighten grip on Group B

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Rafinha returned to haunt Inter Milan as Barcelona eased past the Italians in the Champions League to tighten their grip on Group B.

Ernesto Valverde’s side remain top of the group with a 100 per cent record after Jordi Alba wrapped up a 2-0 win late on.

Rafinha netted his first Barcelona goal since February 2017 after he spent the second half of last season on loan at Inter.

Inter, the 2010 winners, struggled all game and are three points behind in second with Tottenham – who drew 2-2 with PSV – a further five back.

Without Lionel Messi, sidelined with a broken arm, Barca lacked their usual ingenuity and Inter conjured the first opening.

Ivan Perisic fired a dangerous low ball in and Mauro Icardi steered it over with Marc-Andre ter Stegen putting him under pressure.

But, slowly, the hosts built momentum and two tame Rafinha efforts were comfortably saved by Samir Handanovic and Clement Lenglet – who had already had a header well stopped – nodded a corner over after half an hour.

But two minutes later Rafinha broke the deadlock when he latched onto Luis Suarez’s classy cross to volley in from six yards.

The midfielder did not celebrate but it was a deserved lead and Barca almost grabbed a second just before the break when Milan Skriniar brought down Philippe Coutinho on the edge of the box.

The Brazil international’s free-kick hit Miranda to drop inches wide of the wrong-footed Handanovic’s post.

But Inter almost levelled five minutes after the restart when Ter Stegen was forced to make a vital save from Matteo Politano’s dangerous cross.

Handanovic then had to stop Suarez making it 2-0 as Barca rediscovered their stride after the former Liverpool striker cut into the area.

Lenglet was denied again before the hosts came inches from doubling their lead with 19 minutes remaining.

First, Suarez’s header was parried and, when Ivan Rakitic miscontrolled, Coutinho could only hammer the loose ball against the bar from seven yards.

But Alba did seal the points with eight minutes remaining when he raced onto Rakitic’s excellent through ball and drilled into the corner before Suarez shot straight at Handanovic a minute from time.

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