At last! Mamelodi Sundowns finally get past penalty shootout misery
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Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns finally lifted the MTN8 Championship after a 3-2 sudden death penalty shoot-out against 10-man Cape Town City FC in Saturday's pulsating final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, after 120 minutes of football could not produce a winner.
Since the start of the MTN8 competition, Sundowns have never won the title but that all changed after a dramatic penalty shoot-out marked by a slew of missed spot-kicks.
The first-half fare produced typical cup football, and the game was very tactical. City's high-press tactic kept Sundowns busy in their half and gave them little space to launch attacks,
City managed several early runs into promising positions, but there was a general lack of urgency in the striking zone.
The difference between the two teams at halftime was that Sundowns capitalised on their chance, whereas City did not. In this regard, Sundowns goalkeeper Ugandan Denis Onyango also played a role after a brilliant save to deny Fagrie Lakay.
Sundowns' goal by central midfielder Thapelo Morena had an element of good fortune about it after City's strongman Taariq Fielies tackled Thabiso Kutumela. Both Fielies and Kutumela went sprawling, but the latter was up in a flash, and he produced a slide-rule feed into the opposition penalty box where Morena stalked in unmarked and scored.
On this occasion, the City defence were guilty of ball watching as Morena was given a free run into the striking zone.
There was a fightback by City, and chances did materialise but not converted. It seemed as if the setback had drained some of their energy and enthusiasm as their attacking sorties had less sting in the ensuing stages.
City was also working less off the ball, and there was less self-belief in the striking zone after attempts were well off target.
There were also sustained spells in the opening half when City played possession football and failed to penetrate the opposition's defensive lines.
Kutumela made way for substitute Kermit Erasmus in the Sundowns attack at the start of second-half play. He should have been on the scoresheet 10 minutes later, but he fired wide and high of the target.
Whereas the pace of the match slowed down towards the end of the first half, the opening 20 minutes of second-half play was fast-paced and of high intensity. Play swung like a pendulum from one end of the field to the other, with Sundowns looking the more likely to score.
City managed to work some break-out moves wide out on the right flank, but again their frontmen, notably Bradley Ralani just could not rise to the occasion.
City's Angolan goalkeeper Hugo Marques was the proverbial Rock of Gibraltar between the stick,s and he stood firm to deal with several scoring attempts as Sundowns turned on the pressure past the hour mark.
Marques' inspirational heroics fired up his teammates, and a few counter-attacks later, they looked threatening. Eventually, their efforts were rewarded with a Fagrie Lakay goal, 15 minutes from the end.
Defence triumphed over attack in remaining play and match continued into extra-time. In the second half of extra time, DR Congo international was redcarded.