Sundowns retain unbeaten Champions League run with win over Wydad
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1
Wydad Casablanca (0) 0
GOAL: Sundowns – Ricardo Nascimento (45 mins, pen)
When Mamelodi Sundowns clicked and started to engage the top gears in the second half, the experienced Wydad Casablanca could not compare.
The Brazilians went in at the break with the vital lead from Ricardo Nascimento’s penalty on the stroke of half time but they did not fully impose themselves on this match in the first half.
There were a number of missed chances by attackers, mainly by Gaston Sirino, Thapelo Morena and Themba Zwane, but they found their rhythm after the break while also managing the game.
Zwane and Sirino were at the forefront of most of their attacks as orchestra conductors while Andile Jali and Hlompho Kekana marshalled the midfield.
In his pre-match presser, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane said despite the fact that they have to get something positive out of this mach to protect their place at the top of Group C, they will not abandon their free-flowing style of play.
Though they did not score any more goals after the break, Sundowns dished out exciting football that had Wydad players chasing shadows to end the group stages unbeaten.
To put this win in perspective for Sundowns, they have gone the entire group stages without defeat with four wins and two draws where they scored nine goals and conceded only three.
They are also yet to lose a match since the start of the competition as they beat AS Otôho 5-2 in the preliminary round and thrashed minnows Côte d'Or from Seychelles 16-1.
It is also worth noting that Sundowns are on an 18 match unbeaten Champions League streak at home but this run will be tested during the knockout stages.
Mosimane was forced to make changes for this match with Lyle Lakay replacing injured Mosa Lebusa while in the midfield Lebohang Maboe and Kekana came on for Sibusiso Vilakazi and Tiyani Mabunda.
Mabunda and Vilakazi, who started in the last match against Petro de Luanda where they played to a 2-2 draw in Angola last weekend, dropped to the bench while Lebusa was unavailable due to a hip injury.
Maboe, who has been struggling with form this season, grabbed the opportunity that he was given by Mosimane with both hands as he proved to be a nuisance to the Wydad defence.
Though Sundowns dominated for most stages, Wydad, who will finish second in the group, also had their moments on the attack but they could not find the killer finish.
The most important moment of the match came during optional time of the first half when Nascimento showed nerves of steel to sent Wydad goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti the wrong way from the spot.
Wydad nearly stole a point at the death from a pin point header of Kassengu Kazadi but Sundowns keeper Denis Onyango parried the ball over the cross-bar for a corner kick.