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

Sundowns Barcelona players

Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez scored first-half goals and Andre Gomes added another after the interval to help the Spanish champions coast past its South African counterpart.

A South African fan jumped the fence at FNB Stadium to get a once in a lifetime opportunity to touch Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The hastily arranged friendly match, which earned Barcelona three million euros from billionaire Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe, was ostensibly to mark 100 years since the birth of Mandela.

SA league champions Sundowns host their Spanish counterparts in the highly anticipated Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup encounter and the uncertainty over Messi's availability had been a huge source of unease for the nation's soccer lovers.

Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns defender Wayne Arendse did not waste any time in swapping shirts with Barcelona maestro Lionel Messi. "The speed of the team was very high", he said. "I think the difference is like that between the rand and the euro, to sum it up".

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"We did make crucial defensive errors, but I took a lot of positives from this match, including our passing and how we dispossessed Barcelona at times".

The 30-year-old led the Catalans to a double this season but their unbeaten run came to a rude shock last weekend after losing 5-4 to Levante in their second to the last La Liga game.

Denis Suarez rattled the woodwork with a header as Barcelona constantly threatened and turned over two goals ahead.

More sloppy defending gave Barcelona a third goal on 67 minutes when an interception set up Gomes to fire past substitute goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. It wasn't long before Valverde introduced sensational striker Lionel Messi into the handsome game much to the thrill of the crowd.

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