Classy Sundowns in total command after destroying African giants Al Ahly

SA champions show Egyptian giants who's the boss

07 April 2019 - 00:01 By MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE

Mamelodi Sundowns could not believe their luck that the Al Ahly side that arrived in Atteridgeville was of featherweight proportions and looked like a sleeping kitten.
The Brazilians, in front of a packed and raucous Lucas Moripe Stadium fully dressed in yellow, did not just beat the African club of the century, they humiliated them.
The score could have been more as Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane hit the woodwork and failed to capitalise on good scoring chances.
Not many teams score five against the Egyptian giants but Sundowns played football of elegance and grandeur to put themselves in a good position to qualify for the semifinals.
What unfolded in front of more than 20,000 people 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 start, punished their visitors who were unimpressive in defence and lacked conviction in possession.
When they trotted off to the tunnel at halftime, they had a healthy 2-0 lead from goals by Zwane and Wayne Arendse.
They returned with more vigour and purpose to score three more through Ricardo Nascimento, Gaston Sirino and Phakamani Mahlambi.
Al Ahly settled first, spending time in the Sundowns half with their inspirational captain Ahmed Fathi dictating from midfield.
Fathi and central midfield partner Amro Elsoulia overpowered Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda as they initiated attacks for strikers Oluwafemi Ajayi and Marwan Fahmy.
Sundowns' real chance in the opening exchanges fell for Lebogang Maboe but his close-range shot was off target as he was put off balance by Al Ahly defender Karim Hassan.
The Brazilians soaked up pressure and they were duly rewarded after 14 minutes when midfielder Zwane got on the end of a cross by Tebogo Langerman to beat visiting goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy.
Sundowns could have increased the lead after 22 minutes but Maboe was thwarted by Elshenawy inside the box after he was released by Sirino after a mistake by Yasser Hanafi.
Sundowns got it right a few minutes later when defender Arendse found himself unmarked to tap home a free kick by Sirino.
By the half hour Sundowns were all over Al Ahly, who looked suspect in the back.
But 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 on pressure.
Al Ahly's Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte rang changes by introducing Mohammed Eldemerdash for Naser Elhamid after 36 minutes to follow the forced substitution of injured Saadeldin Ali, replaced by Hanafi.
The second half got off to a dream start for Sundowns as Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye pointed to the spot after Al Ahly goalkeeper Elshenawy brought down Maboe in the box for Nacsimento to do the rest.
The Brazilians put the match beyond doubt after the hour when Sirino pounced from close range after he received the ball from Langerman and Mahlambi came off the bench to drill in.
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 5
Al Ahly 0
GOALS: Sundowns - Themba Zwane (14m), Wayne Arendse (24m), Ricardo Nascimento (46m, pen), Gaston Sirino (62m), Phakamani Mahlambi (83m)

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.