Downs Pipped At The Post02/Jun/2017 23:10
Mamelodi Sundowns were pipped at the post when Tunisian side Esperance Tunis scored from the penalty spot late in the game to take a 2-1 victory in their CAF Champions League third round encounter at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
The African champions were once more without influential captain Hlompho Kekana, who is still recovering from injury, and talisman Khama Billiat, also out injured .
Thapelo Morena played a more central role as Anele Ngconca took the right back mantle
This was the Tshwane side’s first CAF campaign loss at home, having won or drawn all their home games over the years
The visitors made early forays, showing their intent to get the early goal to put the champions on the back foot. They showed just why they are one of the feared sides in North Africa, and had several opportunities thwarted
The pressure they put on the Brazilians resulted in an injury to Thabo Nthete. As Mr Cool was being attended to, there was a gap in defence which the Tunisians took advantage of to net the early goal they had fought for from the kick off as Yassine Khenisse broke down the left flank to drive the ball out of the reach of Denis Onyango.
From this point, they were more relaxed in their play, almost daring the Brazilians to go forward, hoping to catch hem on the break to get the second goal.
However Sundowns were not about to push the panic button and kept to their regular play, getting the balls through to target man Leonardo Castro. Tebogo Langerman made regular runs on the left while Percy Tau kept the Tunisian defence on the hop on the right flank.
Themba Zwane was kept back as he paired with Tiyane Mabunda in central midfield while Sibusiso Vilakazi kept behind Castro.
Their dominance was rewarded on 26 minutes when Tau made another breakthrough run. He laid the ball on for Vilakazi, whose tap in gave the champions the equaliser, and the two sides had to start off play on level terms once more.
The Tshwane Giants knew they were in for a massive battle, as they were forced into bring more cautious without letting up on their attacks.
Langerman’s drive from range drew a parried clearance from the Tunisian goalkeeper, and the visitors fell back into defence once more.
Towards the half time break Motjeka Madisha suffered an injury and Mosimane was forced to make a substitution. Soumahoro Bangaly was brought on to partner Thabo Nthete in central defence as the minutes towards the break ticked on.
In the second half, the first five minutes were a cat and mouse affair as both sides probed for goals, but much of the play was concentrated in the middle of the park.
The North African side stuck to their game plan and were not allowing Sundowns to play their inter passing game as they anticipated Sundowns ever move. At the same time, they kept their defence tight, and often dimply bundled the Brazillians off the ball.
As the minutes ticked by, it seemed that the sides would end up level, but a challenge by Bangaly in the box resulted in a penalty on 89 minutes, and the writing was on the wall for the Brazilians. Khenisse made no mistake from the spot to give the Tunisians their second and deciding goal.
Denis Onyango, Anele Ngconca , Motjeka Madisha,(Bangaly Soumahoro), Thabo Nthete, Tebogo Langerman, Thapelo Morena, Sibusiso Vilakazi , Tiyane Mabunda, Themba Zwane, Percy Tau, Leonardo Castro.
Mweene, Hachi, Mbekile , Mohomi, S. Zwane.