A costly first-half red card aided Mamelodi Sundowns' passage into the Nedbank Cup final as they coasted to a 2-0 victory over Free State Stars in Atteridgeville on Saturday night.
Dove Wome, Stars' hero in their win over Kaizer Chiefs in the previous round, turned villain when he was sent off after 19
minutes for a robust tackle on Esrom Nyandoro.
Sundowns gained momentum after the visitors were reduced to 10
men and they piled the pressure.
Both goals came soon after referee Jerome Damon gave the Togolese midfielder his marching orders with the hosts racing to a commanding lead at the interval.
Richard Henyekane netted the opener after 26 minutes, completing some hard work from strike partner Nyasha Mushekwi, as the Stars defence were caught out.
Mushekwi doubled the lead five minutes later as he slotted in a pin-point pass from wingback Punch Masenamela.
It was an improved display from the Brazilians as they recovered from a recent run of poor results.
Sundowns had virtually secured their place in the final in the first stanza as Stars started off on the back foot.
They could have netted again but Mushekwi's “goal” in the 37th minute was adjudged to be offsides, and then Surprise Moriri drew a splendid save from Kennedy Mweene in the Stars goal shortly before the interval.
The Pretoria outfit kept control in the second period but were kept at bay by Mweene.
The Zambian shot stopper thwarted chances that fell for Henyekane, Jabulani Shongwe and Teko Modise.
Stars were lacklustre on the night, failing to create a single chance at goal in the opening half, with the Free State side only pushing forward after the hour mark.
Their best effort came from Paulus Masehe's long-range shot that sailed wide of goal in the 63rd minute.
Sundowns, the three-time competition winners, will compete in the final at Orlando Stadium on May 26.
SuperSport United host AmaZulu in the second semifinal in Polokwane on Sunday. – Sapa