He played a part in Barcelona's first two goals, hit the post twice early in the second half, and eventually got on the score sheet when he started and finished the best move of the night to make it 3-1.
"With all respect to other players, who have won it [Ballon d'Or], we know there is a player who is different to the others, and that is Leo Messi", Rakitic said post-game.
Not one. In the second half, with a lot of space, it is unbelievable how he runs. We were handicapped against Barcelona after conceding after one minute.
Messi has made a strong start to the season with 10 goals in all competitions, including five in LaLiga and as many in the Champions League.
Can Spurs salvage anything from this game, or have Barcelona already picked up all three points? He rushed off his line to pressure Jordi Alba, who cut back for Coutinho.
Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic fired Barca into a two-goal lead at the break as the La Liga champions looked to bounce back from a three-game winless run. His floated pass was chested down by Luis Suarez to Coutinho whose volley sliced up in the air before the quick-thinking Brazilian hooked the ball back to Rakitic who rifled a picture-perfect right-foot volley in off the post from 25 yards.
Spurs now face an uphill task to qualify from their Champions League group after losses against Inter Milan and Barcelona.
The main area Barcelona can improve is defensively.
Erik Lamela's deflected strike kept Tottenham in the hunt, but Messi capped a mesmerising performance in the final moments to give Barca a second successive group-stage victory as they emerged from their recent struggles.
"And it's never easy away from home in the Champions League, especially against a team like Tottenham". If you watch the first half again, how many chances did he have?
Spurs twice rallied, making it 2-1 and then 3-2 and almost equalising with a deflected Lucas Moura effort, but Lionel Messi's 90th-minute strike - his second goal of the night - ended Spurs' hopes.
A gallant Tottenham side, missing the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen, nearly levelled when Lucas Moura's shot deflected wide but Messi ended their resistance after again being picked out by Alba.
But the damage was done due to defensive errors from Lloris and Sanchez as they badly missed Vertonghen's calming influence and Dembele's presence in front of the back four.