The Catalans promised to entertain and bring their stars. And they did just that for the Nelson Mandela Centenary friendly. Except fans had to wait for 65 minutes to see Lionel Messi as Barca beat Sundowns 3-1.
But the sold-out crowd didn’t have to wait long for the entertainment to begin as Barca opened the scoring in the third minute of the match.
French winger Ousmane Dembele curled a shot from outside the box beyond Denis Onyango and into the goal after capitalising on a Downs defensive mistake.
The hosts were almost right back in it 10 minutes later when a ball over the top released Percy Tau, but the PSL’s top scorer failed to hold his nerve and lifted the ball into Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s gloves.
Downs paid for their sloppiness when Luis Suarez made it 2-0 six minutes later.
This time Barca showed their class with a classy build-up before the club’s next big thing, Carlos Alena, played in the Uruguayan to tuck home.
Downs had their chances in the first half, but Hlompho Kekana was denied by Ter Stegen, who he tested with a trademark rocket from range.
After a quiet start to the second half, Barca were gifted their third as Messi warmed up on the sidelines with 25 minutes to play.
Downs were playing passes at the back before playing it straight to Andre Gomes, who fired home after a quick exchange.
But once Messi came on, Downs came alive and Sibusiso Vilakazi finished off a classy move to pull one back for the Brazilians.
But the Argentina genius didn’t let that stop him from playing his game.
And he enjoyed himself, pulling the strings of his team as he partnered up with former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho.
Only thing missing was a goal by the little master.