Sport

Ernesto Valverde explains Lionel Messi cameo and Barcelona's South Africa inspiration

Ernesto Valverde explains Lionel Messi cameo and Barcelona's South Africa inspiration

FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has explained why Lionel Messi only featured in the final 20 minutes of their Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup win over Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday.

The match came three days after Barcelona suffered a stunning 5-4 defeat at lowly Levante in their second last La Liga match, robbing them of a chance to complete the season unbeaten.

An attendance of 75,000 was recorded in at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg South, Africa as Barcelona entertained the crowd with their star players. Although on paper Barcelona where seemingly the favorites Sundowns seemed very much equipped for them.

Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andr ter Stegen, meanwhile, added: "It has been a great experience for us and we are pleased to have won in front of the South African fans". Although Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane tried by every means to hype the mood of the players which seemed to have worked for a while as the Sundowns attacking force which comprises of Khama Billiat, Tau and Themba Zwane started to showcase some energy and hunger for goals their zest was futile and Sundowns went to the break trailing by two goals to nil.




A defensive mix up from Sundowns allowed Luis Suarez to double Barcelona's lead in the 19th minute, through a pass by Denis Suarez.

There were nearly wholesome changes for the Barcelona in the second half as they continued to dominate the former Caf Champions League winners and a third goal arrived in the 66 minute.

Although clearly second best, the 2016 African champions never lost heart and were rewarded when Vilakazi scored on 76 minutes as Barcelona appealed for offside.

This time round, Kennedy Mweene was in goal after replacing Onyango. The other goal ... okay, it's Barca, that is the way Barca plays, and that was the school fees we paid.


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