A lone goal from Hlompho Kekana has taken Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-0 win away to USM Alger at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida on Saturday evening.
The victory in Blida, Algeria sees the South African side move to seven points from a possible nine at the top of Group C in the CAF Champions League and well on their way to qualification for the last 16. USMA, meanwhile, remain third on two points, but the log will change late on Saturday when the match between Wydad Casablanca and Petro de Luanda is completed.
The match got off to a quick start, with the two teams trading scoring chances in the early stages. USMA created the best of those opportunities in the 13th minute when Zakaria Benchaa had a clear sight of goal, but Denis Onyango made a fine save.
Midway through the first half, after the game had settled down somewhat, ‘Downs very nearly opened up the hosts’ defence with a great ball from Mauricio Affonso, but Gaston Sirino was beaten to the pass by goalkeeper Mohamed Zemmamouche.
Sundowns enjoyed more of the ball as the half went on, and began to probe for openings in Alger’s defence, but the interval arrived with the teams still locked at 0-0. The South African side opened the second stanza on a positive note, with Hlompho Kekana seeing a shot deflected narrowly wide a few seconds after the restart.
However, the Brazilians’ skipper found the back of the net just before the hour mark, capitalising on a defensive error from USMA before tucking the ball past Zemmamouche to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
The goal sparked the Algerian side into life and they began testing Sundowns’ defence, with Onyango called upon to make a couple of notable saves – especially from substitute Aymen Mahious midway through the second half.
However, the Brazilians were able to see out the remainder of the 90 minutes and secure three valuable points on the road in their quest to reach the knockout phase. The teams will return to Champions League action in a fortnight’s time in the reverse game, with ‘Downs hosting USM Alger in Tshwane on Saturday 11 January 2020.
USM Alger 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 1 (Kekana 59’)
USMA: Zemmamouche, Meftah, Kheiraoui, Hamra, Cherifi, Koudri, Benkhelifa, Zouari, Benhamouda (Boumechra 82’), Ardji (Mahious 67’), Benchaa
Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca, Arendse, Madisha, Langerman, Morena, Kekana (Mabunda 61’), Jali, Zwane, Sirino (Lakay 78’), Affonso (Maboe 82’)