Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly drew 2-2 in what was a scintillating encounter in the CAF Champions League at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
The two African giants produced an entertaining draw on Saturday evening, Peter Shalulile scored the first and Thapelo Morena the second in the Brazilians away encounter in the continental competition.
The home team were quick to put Masandawana under pressure in the opening minutes of the first half, goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was forced to make a save within two minutes into the game and gave Ahly their first corner in the match. An intense ten minutes followed between the two sides with the Red Devils having most of the ball possession while Sundowns tried to find their rhythm.
Shortly after searching for the ball, Downs delivered their first threat towards goal but an offside call was made for Peter Shalulile. The Namibian international delivered a strike a few minutes later that went over Mohammed El Shenawy’s goalposts. Shalulile received his pass from Marcelo Allende after the ball was well worked in the middle of the park between Sphelele Mkhulise and Themba Zwane.
The Brazilians pace and momentum picked up with each minute being played and their intentions were clear, Allende fouled by Abdel Kader and a promising free kick was awarded the way of Sundowns just outside the edge of the box. Aubrey Modiba’s swing into the far right side offside could not be completed as the offside flag went up as the players attempted to capitalize on the opportunity.
Downs goalie had to come off his line quickly to make a save before Percy Tau could latch on to the ball in the box and put Masandawana back into action. After twenty five minutes of a thrilling end-to-end clash, a very close chance at goal for Shalulile came through a corner kick delivered on the right side of the pitch but his shot was slightly off target and the score remained goalless.
The Namibian international striker opened the scoring for Bafana Ba Style five minutes after the half hour mark when Cassius Mailula put in a low cross from the left side past into the box allowing Shalulile to tap home. The Sundowns goal poacher was in the act of scoring his second goal shortly after replay but his header was directed outside.
With five minutes left to play in the first half, the home team came close to equalizing but Khuliso Mudau cleared the ball out for a corner kick. Ahly played the ball into the box and Williams made his final save and Sundowns went into the break leading with a goal to zero.
The second half started lively for Masandawana while the Red Devils looked to chase from behind. The home team was awarded a penalty when the clock hit fifty minutes, Mohamed Hany stepped up to face Williams but his shot was brilliantly saved by the Bafana Bafana international goalie.
Downs almost extended their lead before the hour, Mailula took a clean shot on target before it was blocked by Ahly bodies and the rebound taken by Sundowns but went straight at the goalkeeper. After the Brazilians did well to put the home side under pressure, Mohamed Abdul scored from a corner kick and leveled the play in Cairo.
Aubrey Modiba took a long range shot from the left as Masandawana looked to get back in the lead but El Shenawy was ready to make the save. El Shahat found the second goal for Ahly and put his team in front and from there the two sides exchanged chances.
With fifteen minutes to go in the second half, Downs found their breakthrough and secured a crucial second through Thapelo Morena who had come on for Themba Zwane. The Brazilians remain at the top of Group B in the CAF Champions League with seven points after three matches played and will host Al Ahly in the return leg on the 11th of March at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
This is how we lined up:
Williams, Mvala, Mudau (85′ B. Onyango), Kekana, Modiba, Mokoena, Allende, Mkhulise (57′ Maema), Zwane © (64′ Morena), Mailula (8′ Motupa), Shalulile (64′ Zungu)
Subs: D. Onyango, Lebusa, Zungu, B. Onyango, Maema, Motupa, Domingo, Morena, Coetzee