Sundowns keep their wits about them after freak Morena injury
PRETORIA - Victory came at a high cost for the Brazilians at Loftus Versfeld last night, Sundowns losing Thapelo Morena to a horrific injury in the second half of their Nedbank Cup clash against SuperSport United.
The right back appeared to break his ankle midway through the second half in an attempt to clear the ball away from Onismor Bhasera.
Morena, who had played an influential role as the creator of this last 32 clash, was stretched off after his foot appeared to have gone loose at the ankle and turned the other way round.
While clearly affected at seeing their teammate in such a bad taste, the Sundowns players kept their wits about them to hold on to the first half goal scored by Sibusiso Vilakazi and kept their Tshwane adversaries from scoring.
The action-packed first half could have produced a handful of goals as both sides played on the front foot, aware that this was a tie that had to produce a winner.
The initial quarter-hour was pretty even although Sundowns threatened on 15 minutes via a display of brilliant ball skills and great combinations on the right side of the field but they met an immovable SuperSport wall in the final third.
Almost ten minutes later though, the visitors could do nothing to stop their host taking the lead.
Gaston Sirino sent Morena sailing with a sublime through ball and the flying right wingback beat the attentions of Clayton Daniels to deliver a low cross into the box.
Sibusiso Vilakazi, rushing into the box, slid to meet the ball with his left foot to rattle the net - injuring himself in the process. Daniels made amends four minutes later by putting his body on the line to block Andile Jali's goalbound shot.
SuperSport came close to levelling matters on 34 minutes through Teboho Mokoena, but the playmaker's shot from inside the D went inches wide of Dennis Onyango's goal.
There was a chance on the other side almost immediately thereafter when Vilakazi set up Sirino beautifully, but the Uruguayan scuffed his shot from inside the box.
The see-saw first half battle ended with Thamsanqa Gabuza bulldozing his way forward and teeing the ball up for Mokoena, who shot somewhat tamely only for Onyango to spill the ball and then gather it at second attempt as Mokoena loomed dangerously.
Typically, SuperSport were the more attack-minded side in the second half as they looked to level matters, but they just could not find a way past the Brazilians' defence.