Slick Sundowns crush Al Ahly 5-0 to take full control of quarterfinal tie
Mamelodi Sundowns could not believe their lucky stars that the Al Ahly side that arrived in Atteridgeville was of featherweight proportions.
The Brazilians, playing in front of a packed and raucous Lucas Moripe Stadium that was fully dressed up in yellow, did not just beat the African club of the century but they humiliated them 5-0.
The score could have been more as Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane were denied by the woodwork and they failed to capitalise on a few good scoring chances.
Not many teams scores five unanswered goals against this Egyptian giant but Sundowns produced mouthwatering football of elegance and grandeur to put themselves in a good position to qualify for semis.
What unfolded in front of more than 20,000 fanatic supporters was evidence that Sundowns have mastered the art of playing on the continent and it is worth mentioning that they played Orlando Pirates five days ago.
Sundowns, who recovered from a jittery opening minutes, punished their visitors who were unimpressive in defence and lacked conviction in possession.
By the time they trotted off to the tunnel at half time, most of the work was done with a healthy 2-0 lead from goals by Zwane and Wayne Arendse.
They returned with more vigour and purpose to score three more goals by Ricardo Nascimento, Gaston Sirino and Phakamani Mahlambi.
Al Ahly settled first in the game by spending more of the time in the Sundowns half with their inspirational captain Ahmed Fathi dictating terms from the midfield.
Fathi and his central midfield partner Amro Elsoulia overpowered Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda as they managed to initiate attacks for strikers Oluwafemi Ajayi and Marwan Fahmy.
Sundowns’ real chance in the opening exchanges fell for Lebogang Maboe but his close range could not find the target as he was put off balance by alert Al Ahly defender Karim Hassan.
The Brazilians soaked up the pressure and they were duly rewarded after fourteen minutes when the indispensable midfielder Zwane got on the end of a cross by Tebogo Langerman to beat visiting goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy.
Sundowns could easily have increased their lead after 22 minutes but Maboe was thwarted by Elshenawy from inside the box after he was released by Sirino following a mistake by Yasser Hanafi.
Sundowns got it right a few minutes later when defender Arendse somehow found himself unmarked in the box to tap home a well-taken free kick by Sirino.
By the half hour mark, Sundowns had fully recovered from their early jitters and were all over Al Ahly who looked suspect at the back where they committed silly mistakes.
But a third and fourth goal eluded the Brazilians as Sirino and Zwane did not make use of good opportunities in quick succession as they piled more pressure on their visitors.
There was to be more frustration for Sundowns as Zwane and Kekana watched in disbelief when their attempts ricocheted from the woodwork as they continued to pile more pressure.
Al Ahly Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte rang changes by introducing Mohammed Eldemerdash for Naser Elhamid after 36 minutes to follow the forced substitute of injured Saadeldin Ali who was replaced by Hanafi.
The second half got off to a dream start for Sundowns as Senegalese referee Maguette N'diaye pointed to the spot after Al Ahly goalkeeper Elshenawy brought down Maboe in the box for Nacsimento to do the rest.
The Brazilians put this match beyond doubt after the hour mark when Sirino pounced home from close range after he received the ball from Langerman and Mahlambi came off the bench to drill the final whistle.
Meanwhile at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in KwaZulu Natal, fellow title chasers Cape Town City lost ground with a 1-0 defeat against Lamontville Golden Arrows.
Other weekend PSL results:
Friday April 5 2019:
Maritzburg United 2 - 1 Bloemfontein Celtic
Saturday April 6 2019:
Bidvest Wits 0 - 1 Orlando Pirates
Lamontville Golden Arrows 1 - 0 Cape Town City