Mamelodi Sundowns remain unbeaten in Group C of the CAF Champions League after salvaging a 2-2 draw away to Petro de Luanda at Estadio 11 de Novembro on Saturday afternoon.
The result does not affect the Brazilians’ prospects in the competition – as they had already secured quarterfinal qualification earlier in the month – but it does mean they will need to avoid defeat in their final group game to ensure a first-place finish and a theoretically weaker opponent in the final eight. Os Tricoloroes, meanwhile, missed out on their first win but had already been mathematically eliminated before kick-off.
The first chance of the match went the way of Petro, who adapted quicker to the wet pitch and teed up striker Jacques Tuyisenge with a header in the sixth minute, but he saw his effort well saved by goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
On 13 minutes ‘Downs began to show signs of finding their rhythm and midfielder Thapelo Morena struck a long-range effort wide of the mark in the visitors’ first shot in anger, but Onyango was soon in action again, making a couple of excellent stops to deny the dangerous Picas.
The end-to-end nature of the game soon produced a goal and it was the Brazilians who drew first blood, with Gaston Sirino firing home from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute. The spot kick was won by Themba Zwane, who saw his shot hit the arm of a defender.
Sundowns appeared to be well in control of the game as the half-time interval approached, but the hosts were rewarded a dubious penalty for a harsh hand-ball decision against Anele Ncongca. Job took on the spot kick and made it 1-1 in the 41st minute.
The South African side suffered an injury blow early in the second half when the excellent Onyango collided with Job and had to be replaced by Kennedy Mweene in the 56th minute. Shortly thereafter ‘Downs made another change by introducing the pace of Phakamani Mahlambi off the bench.
The likes of Sirino and Zwane continued to be a thorn in the side of Petro’s defence, but the home side struck next when they went ahead for the first time in the 72nd minute: Picas played in a cross and Tuyisenge cracked home a volley to make it 2-1 in favour of Os Tricolores.
Ten minutes later Petro substitute Yano nearly added to their advantage with a goal-bound header, but Mweene proved just as tough to beat as Onyango, making an excellent diving save to his left to keep Sundowns in the game.
And the replacement goalkeeper’s efforts were not in vain: Sundowns forced an injury-time equaliser when Motjeka Madisha headed home from Sirino’s cross to ensure the game ended 2-2.
The teams will wrap up their group stage campaign next weekend, with Sundowns at home to Wydad Casablanca and Petro away to USM Alger.
Petro de Luanda (1) 2 (Job 41’ pen, Tuyisenge 72’)
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Sirino 23’ pen, Madisha 90+1’)
Petro: Gerson, Joao, Kilola, Wilson, Carneiro, Albert Adao, Satonho, Mensah (Yano 63’), Job, Picas, Tuyisenge
Sundowns: Onyango (Mweene 56’), Ngcongca, Madisha, Nascimento, Lebusa (Langerman 67’), Morena, Mabunda, Jali, Zwane, Vilakazi (Mahlambi 61’), Sirino