Laffor sends Sundowns into MTN8 final

Sundowns(0) 1

Laffor 76

Sibusiso Vilakazi of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Marc van Heerden of Chippa United during the 2016 MTN8 Semi-final second leg. Photo by: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix. Credit: BackpagePix

Chippa United0

The crowd was descent, the football was eye catching and there needed to be a hero.

Anthony Laffor once again emerged as one Wednesday night. The Liberian international scored the match's solitary goal to help Sundowns reach the final of the MTN8 for the first time in eight years.

The Brazilians will take on Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium on October 1 at 5pm.

Laffor had come off the bench to provide an assist for Khama Billiat in the CAF Champions League against Zesco United at the weekend. Last night he again proved to be a super-sub when he came on to finish a move that saw Sundowns being a match away from cup glory.

Pitso Mosimane made four changes to the side that faced Zesco in the CAF Champions League, first leg semi-final last weekend. Ricardo Nascimento, Asavela Mbekile, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Yannick Zakri refreshed the team.

The match took off at a blistering pace with Sundowns coming close. Keagan Dolly was sent down the left and he raced towards goals before rifling a low shot that forced keeper Daniel Akpeyi to make a save. Then Ivorian forward Zakri wrestled his way into the box from the right channel and put in cross for Khama Billiat, whose poor connection let Chippa off the hook.

The Chilli Boys created a lot of chances in comparison to when they were here against SuperSport United in the league last week.

Defender Mark Van Heerden put in a wicked free-kick that was blocked by Denis Onyango. The Ugandan keeper was called upon to parry Strydom Wambi’s shot for a corner and found himself having to deal with a lot of rocket-like shots from the visitors.

He spilled a Van Heerden free-kick into the path of Xolani Mdaki, but the Chippa man sent his rasping shot sailing over the bar.

If anything, the scoreline remained the same more due to poor finishing by the visitors than the hosts' solid defending. Diamond Thopola went down the right in attack, cut in and put a sublime pass for Menzi Masuku who feigned a pass. The ball found an unmarked Andile Mbenyane but the forward's shot got deflected for a corner. Then Wambi’s shot from close range sailed harmlessly across goal.

For Sundowns, Billiat seemed to have forgotten his scoring boots at home, the talismanic player being guilty of fluffing another chance by shooting over the bar from inside the box.

The tempo declined in the second half resulting in chances being rare.The most promising chance for Chippa fell for Thopola. The rightback was through on goal and let rip a shot but Nascimento intercepted in the nick of time.

Sundowns’ goal was classic. A move instigated by Percy Tau saw him play a quick give and go with Billiat. who returned the favour. Tau then found Tiyani Mabunda, who offloaded to Villakazi. The playmaker released Laffor with a sublime pass and the Liberian made no mistake firing a low shot beyond the reach of Akpeyi.

Those adorned in yellow in the stands burst into celebratory songs as their team marched to the final.

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