With a near picture perfect scenery of a capacity crowd at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Mamelodi Sundowns took a giant step towards qualifying for the CAF Champions League semi-finals.
For the first time in the history of the club, and under coach Pitso Mosimane, the Brazilians beat Egyptian giants Al Ahly 5-0 in the home leg of the continental competition following an unforgettable performance.
Downs did not just beat the eight-time winners, they also turned it into a spectacle and had scored two goals before half time.
Themba Zwane broke the deadlock 14 minutes into the clash when he connected with a low cross from left back Tebogo Langerman. And ‘Bafana ba style’ were just getting started. It was defender Wayne Arendse who arrived at the end of a set-piece sent in, timely, by midfielder Gaston Sirino. Al Ahly defenders watched the ball sail over them as the onrushing Arendse stuck his foot out to make his surge into the box count to extend the lead. Lebohang Maboe, playing in what he had earlier in the week described as the biggest game in his career, should have added to Zwane’s opener, but his clear cut chance was saved by goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy. Sirino had benefitted from a defensive blunder and released the ball quickly for Maboe to be one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Downs had to wait, however, to add to their tally.
Sundowns were completely dominant, and that sort of control – with the crowd loudly behind them – continued in the second half.
Just seconds after the break Maboe was fouled in the box by El-Shenawy and the referee pointed to the spot. Ricardo Nascimento, the club’s preferred penalty taker, picked his spot and made it 3-0, all but ending the first leg tie as a contest.
Then on the hour mark, Sirino finally got his name on the score sheet. A move that was started by Zwane in midfield ended with the Uruguayan finishing it off by slamming the ball home after a bit of a goal mouth scramble and a final pass – again – from Langerman in the box.
By this time there really was no comeback for Al Ahly, and one of their former players was on hand to put the final nail in the coffin.
Phakamani Mahlambi scored the fifth and final goal of the match with seven minutes left on the clock to make the victory a memorable one for Sundowns against Africa’s most successful club. Thapelo Morena made one of his usual runs down the right flank and picked up Mahlambi with a low cross for the young striker to tap in and send the crowd into wild celebrations. Unforgettable.
Sundowns will travel to Suez for the return leg on Saturday at the Egyptian Army Stadium hoping to complete the job.
How Sundowns lined-up:
Denis Onyango, Anele Ngcongca, Wayne Arendse, Ricardo Nascimento, Tebogo Langerman, Thapelo Morena, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino, Lebohang Maboe
Subs: Kennedy Mweene, Rivaldo Coetzee, Mosa Lebusa, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Lyle Lakay, Emiliano Tade, Phakamani Mahlambi