Lionel Messi fever hits South Africa as Barcelona beat Mamelodi

Lionel Messi fever hits South Africa as Barcelona beat Mamelodi

Lionel Messi didn't start but drew a roar from the crowd as big as any other on the night when he got up off the bench and started to warm up 20 minutes into the second half.

The Spanish giants kept their end of the deal in fielding all their star players as they defeated the Absa Premiership champions in a Mandela Centenary Cup match on Wednesday.

"It's not only special for me but to all South Africans, people in Africa, the whole world to see Barcelona playing against a South African team".

Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez had Barcelona 2-0 up at the break before Andre Gomes made it 3-0.

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Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute.

Between the goals, Sundowns' star attacker Percy Tau had two chances, but his chip was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen and he fired a close-range free-kick over.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said he was proud of his team and called the match a "great learning experience" for him and the players. He came on for the last 15 minutes, enough time for him to launch a stinging, long-range shot that goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene struggled to stop.

However, the technical team felt it was important for Messi to participate in the match, probably because of the huge support the 30-year-old enjoys in South Africa. He said after the match that they have paid their school fees. Sibusiso Vilakazi grabbed a consolation goal for the Brazilians in the 76 minute.

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