Lakay free-kick in dying seconds earns Sundowns 3-2 win over Wits
The quality of the teams‚ and some inevitable howlers‚ made for a five-goal fest that under the circumstances was remarkably entertaining as Mamelodi Sundowns ran out 3-2 winners in a Nedbank Cup semifinal of swinging fortunes on Saturday night.
Sundowns will contest the September 8 final against Bloemfontein Celtic.
Ricardo Nascimento’s 38th-minute penalty at Orlando Stadium gave Sundowns a 1-0 lead that one might have expected‚ given this was the two teams’ first game in five months‚ Sundowns to shut out.
Some glaring errors and tenacious running and finishing from Terence Dzvukumanja saw a frenetic finish as Wits’ Zimbabwean forward equalised in the 76th‚ before Kgeletso Makgalwa restored Downs’ lead (81st). Dzvukumanja made it 2-2 in the 86th.
Five minutes into injury time‚ with the last kick of the game‚ Downs substitute Lyle Lakay struck a fine 25-metre free-kick for the winner.
With no crowd‚ and so much time for the teams out of the game‚ on an Orlando pitch worn by the circumstances in the country as grounds have buckled financially from their own inactivity‚ of course Sundowns and Wits laboured to a game.
But the touches and inter-passing were that much more classy‚ given the teams on view‚ than the earlier 3-0 semi win for Bloemfontein Celtic over 10-man Baroka FC at the same venue‚ and the challenges marginally better timed.
Still‚ as in the earlier game‚ there were predictably few chances by the break‚ a combination of the players’ entirely understandable sluggishness‚ and obviously cautious gameplans that had to accompany that from both Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane and Wits’ Gavin Hunt.
The Clever Boys had the early play as a Deon Hotto drive was struck reasonably well with swerve to be parried by Denis Onyango into the path of Cole Alexander‚ who lifted his attempt wide.
With seven minutes to the change Wits centreback Buhle Mhwanazi tugged at the shirt of Motjeka Madisha at a corner‚ who went down easily‚ referee Luxolo Badi pointing to the spot. Nascimento struck in to the left of Brighton Mhlongo’s dive.
There will be howlers – and probably a lot – in these opening games of the return to football from the PSL’s suspension of matches due to Covid-19 on March 16. Two from either team saw Downs squander‚ then regain‚ their lead within five minutes late in the second half.
Madisha sloppily gave the ball to Dzvukumanja deep in his own half on the right to allow the Wits forward to run through and spoon a finish past Denis Onyango.
At the other end Mhlongo ill-advisedly came for out of his box to a speculative‚ bouncing punt up-field and missed the ball‚ allowing substitute Makgalwa to slot into an open goal.
Another‚ only mildly lesser mistake‚ saw Wits equalise again. Djvukumanja collected a pass from Phathuthshedzo Nange on the edge of the area‚ and a nifty turn and touch saw the ball evade the leg of Madisha‚ the Zimbabwean through to beat Onyango again.
Inside the final minute of five in added time Lakay‚ from a free-kick in the middle‚ produced a crisp strike past diving Mhlongo‚ bringing to an end a mistake and goal-fest.