Valverde: Barca honoured by Mandela match

‘He was smashing it past me’ – England keeper Heaton on Hudson Odoi

Ernesto Valverde enjoyed his side’s whirlwind trip to South Africa, saying the ‘atmosphere was fantastic’ following Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat of Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.

Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes were all on target for the Spanish champions, with Sibusiso Vilakazi netting a consolation goal for the hosts.

After the game, Valverde expressed his delight at the occasion, saying: “I liked our opponents a lot because of their enthusiasm, it was a very nice match and the atmosphere was fantastic.”

The friendly game was arranged to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, with Valverde continuing: “For us it’s an honour that we’ve been invited for such a celebration.

“We enjoyed it and wanted to win for the fans that follow us from so far away.”

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.

“We really liked the atmosphere and I can only say ‘Thank you for the support’. We hope to return soon.”