Barcelona 3-1 Mamelodi Sundowns: Andres Iniesta lifts Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup after Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes score in Johannesburg
- Barcelona beat Mamelodi Sundowns to lift the Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup
- Early strikes from Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez gave Barca the advantage
- Andre Gomes scored a third for Barca in the second half to put the game to bed
- Sibusiso Vilakazi pulled one back for Sundowns but it was merely a consolation
In one of his final acts as Barcelona captain, Andres Iniesta lifted the Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup on Wendesday after two early strikes from Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez and a third from Andre Gomes toppled South Africa champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Manager Ernesto Valverde fielded a strong starting XI for the one-off fixture in Johannesburg as they looked to get over their disappointment of losing their unbeaten streak in La Liga following Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Levante.
And the Catalan giants got off to a flying start as Dembele received the ball from outside the Sundowns area and curled his shot into the top left-hand corner to give Barca the lead after just two minutes.
Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta holds the Nelson Mandela trophy aloft after Barcelona’s win
Ousmane Dembele broke the deadlock after two minutes with a superb strike in Johannesburg
Barcelona celebrate after scoring the opening goal in the Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup
La Liga’s newly crowned champions then doubled their lead on the 19th-minute mark after Suarez was put through in on goal to calmly slot the ball past Sundowns keeper Denis Masinde Onyango to make it 2-0.
The Pretoria-based side had chances of their own, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen called into action multiple times throughout the first half as the hosts looked to make a breakthrough.
Valverde made multiple changes to his full-strength side at half-time before Lionel Messi came on for the final 15 minutes of the game.
Luis Suarez congratulates his team-mate for scoring the opening goal on Wednesday evening
Despite conceding two goals in the first half and holding their own, Sundowns cracked under some Barcelona pressure, gifting Andre Gomes the visitors’ third in the second half.
Iniesta, playing in his penultimate game for the club, returned to the stadium where he scored the goal to win the World Cup for Spain in 2010.
The South African side did pull one back in the second half as Sibusiso Vilakazi beat the offside trap to slide it past Jasper Cillessen in the Barca goal.
Andres Iniesta played in his penultimate game for the club in the friendly match
Suarez holds his back after the Uruguayan striker went through one-on-one in the first half
Lionel Messi made a late appearance to help his side see out their 3-1 on Wednesday evening
The cup is in place to commemorate the life of South Africa’s former president, who died in December 2013 and would have turned 100 years old in July this year. It sees Barcelona play in South Africa for only the second time.
Barca’s stay on the continent will only be a brief one with one last league game calling them against Real Sociedad as they look to close out their season in style at the Nou Camp on Sunday.