Sundowns make light work of Orlando Pirates to reach Nedbank Cup semi finals
CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns reached the Nedbank Cup semi-final round in empathic fashion with a 4-1 thumping over rivals Orlando Pirates in the highly anticipated quarter-final clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on Thursday evening.
After the teams were level-pegging at 1-all at halftime, Sundowns added three second-half goals without reply to wrap up a masterclass performance. Sundowns will now meet Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in Sunday's semifinal.
Sundowns fired an early warning in the second minute when they rounded the Pirates defence out wide on the left flank where Aubrey Modiba had overlapped to good effect. His goalmouth cross could have spelt trouble, but Sundowns' front runners were unable to latch on to the inviting feed.
A minute later, Sundowns' ace goalscorer Peter Shalulile pulled the trigger from point-blank range and Pirates' goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, just a metre away, and plumb in front of his posts, took a shot to the face. He needed some attention before he could continue.
In the 10th minute, Pirates left-back suffered a knock to the head and was forced to leave the field. In his absence, Sundowns opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Shalulile. He did, however, return four minutes later.
Sundowns midfielder Rivaldo Coetzee masterminded the scoring effort when he fed Shalulile with a pin-point long ball over the Pirates' rearguard. Once Shalulile brought the ball under control he fired a low drive past Sandilands (1-0).
This setback stung Pirates into all-out action and their fightback almost materialized a goal but striker Hellings Mhango saw his shot blocked by the defence.
As the first half wore on to its close, Pirates became stronger, and they deservedly equalized through Tshegofatso Mabasa after Sundowns' defence was caught in disarray (1-1).
Twice, in the dying minutes, Pirates came close to scoring but, on one occasion, were denied by the woodwork.
Sundowns returned for second-half action with a greater sense of purpose, and they regained the lead just four minutes later.
Striker Themba Zwane showed some sublime touches after Pirates failed to check Shalulile's run into their goalmouth. After Shalulile lost possession, Zwane collected the stray ball and rounded two players before netting from an acute angle (2-1).
The goal seemed to settle the nerves in Sundowns' ranks, and they produced a few penetrative passages of play in the ensuing minutes.
Just past the hour mark, Zwane again threatened, but this time his deft curling shot was pushed out for a corner by Sandilands.
Pirates, meanwhile, relied on counter-attacks to keep them in the picture and the speed at which they executed often allowed them to reach the strike zone in the opposition penalty area. However, generally, the support was lacking for them to make their mark.
Around the 76th minute mark, Sundowns made a double substitution, and two minutes later, it paid dividends when replacement Lesedi Kapinga scored.
In the remaining 12 minutes of play, Pirates had a few chances to run at the Sundowns defence. However, they were checked around the fringes of the penalty area.
By this time, it looked like Sundowns were headed for a comfortable 3-1 win, but replacement Hlompho Kekana had other ideas when he scored, four minutes from the end of regulation (4-1).