MAMELODI Sundowns turned on the style to record a stunning 5-0 victory over Al Ahly in a CAF Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
It was a good start from both sides, with neither side seeming content to sit back. However, Sundowns were looking fragile defending set-pieces, with two corners and a free-kick from Ahly causing a bit of panic in the Brazilians’ ranks early on.
After some patient build-up from Sundowns, Gaston Sirino played a lovely diagonal which gave Tebogo Langerman plenty of space down the left-hand side. Langerman drilled in a dangerous delivery to the penalty spot where Themba Zwane was on hand to side-foot the ball home from close range to give the hosts the lead in the 13th minute.
Sundowns were looking especially dangerous down the left-hand side through the overlapping Langerman.
In the 21st minute, Pitso Mosimane’s side should have had a second. Al Ahly gave the ball away in a dangerous area, leaving themselves exposed at the back. Sirino unselfishly played Lebohang Maboe through on goal, but his left-footed strike ricocheted off the keeper and trickled agonisingly past the right-hand upright.
Soon after, the hosts did indeed get their second. After winning a free-kick on the left, Sirino swung in an excellent delivery to the penalty spot, which was tapped home by centre-back Wayne Arendse in the 23rd minute.
Sirino, who had been Sundowns’ chief architect so far, missed a gilt-edged opportunity to make it three in the 28th minute. Maboe got in on the overlap down the right-hand side with typical speed before delivering an inch-perfect cross to Sirino at the back-post, but the Uruguayan could only side-foot his volley from close range well over the bar.
It definitely should have been three when Zwane and Hlompho Kekana both hit the bar in quick succession and the Brazilians could count themselves unlucky.
In the 37th minute, Marwan Mohsen found space in the box for the visitors and hit the ball sweetly but it was straight at Downs’ keeper Dennis Onyango. Soon after, Maboe struck a powerful effort but it was also straight at the opposition keeper.
Almost immediately after the break, Kekana played Sirino through with a defense-splitting pass. Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy came off his line to thwart the Uruguayan, but Maboe got to the rebound before the keeper, who ended up tripping him with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Ricardo Nascimento calmy slotted home in to the bottom left-hand corner from 12 yards.
Downs were beginning to turn on the style. After some brilliant build-up once again from the hosts, Kekana played a one-two with Maboe, but the keeper was quickly off his line to deny the Sundowns skipper. Soon after, Sirino chipped a ball in to Thapelo Moreno on the right-hand side, who had a go from a tight angle on the edge of the box but El-Shenawy did well to tip the ball over his crossbar.
In the 62nd minute, Sirino made it four. Some slick passing worked the ball in to the box and Maboe’s shot deflected in to Langerman’s path, who was one on one with the keeper but decided to square the ball across goal for Sirino, who composed himself before placing the ball expertly in the right-hand corner.
Mabunda then released Langerman in to space, who once again found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but the keeper blocked his chip away from danger.
Phakamani Mahlambi put the icing on the cake, grabbing Sundowns’ fifth in the 83rd minute. Zwane played a through ball which released the speedy Morena down the right-hand side, who squared the ball for Mahlambi to tap home in to an empty net and cap off an historic victory.
Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca, Arendse, Nascimento, Langerman, Mabunda, Kekana, Morena, Zwane, Maboe, Sirino.
Subs: Mweene, Lebusa, Vilakazi, Lakay, Tade, Mahlambi, Coetzee.