Sirino takes Sundowns to treble glory

Sirino takes Sundowns to treble glory
Gaston Sirino of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal with teammates during the 2020 Nedbank Cup final match between Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg, on 12 September 2020 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Sep 12, 2020. 22:32

Mamelodi Sundowns have completed a treble in the 2019-20 season, defeating Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in the Nedbank Cup final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night thanks to a late strike from Gaston Sirino.

The Brazilians had already won the Telkom Knockout earlier in the season and have now added the Nedbank Cup to a dramatic Absa Premiership league triumph secured last weekend.

Sundowns looked the livelier team in the opening minutes and created half-chances for the mercurial Themba Zwane, though the midfielder was not able to trouble goalkeeper Sipho Chaine with either.

Celtic posed a major threat with their pace on the break and Victor Letsoalo was perhaps unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when he threatened to get in behind the ‘Downs defence in the seventh minute and had a tangle of legs with the back-tracking Gaston Sirino.

On the half hour mark Zwane was a menace to the Celtic defence again, as he ran onto a clever reverse ball from Lebohang Maboe, but Chaine came quickly off his line to make a block with his legs.

The closest the game came to a goal in the first half was a looping Letsoalo header in the final minute of regulation time, but Brazilians goalkeeper Dennis Onyango made a brilliant finger-tip save to push the effort over his crossbar.

Sundowns very nearly broke the deadlock 13 minutes into the second half through Sirino, who turned into space just inside the penalty area and got away a right-footed shot which had the beating of Chaine but struck the inside of the ‘keeper’s left-hand upright and bounced across the goal line and away to safety.

Just past the hour mark, Celtic shuffled their pack in attack by introducing Tebogo Potsane and Neo Maema off the bench, yet it was the Brazilians who continued to look the likelier scorers. On 80 minutes, ‘Downs were finally rewarded with a goal.

Sirino picked up the ball on the left of midfield and drove forward – Celtic’s defenders curiously backed off and allowed the Uruguayan to get within a couple of metres of the edge of the box before he unleashed a shot which skidded off the turf and beyond the left hand of Chaine before rippling the back of the net, 1-0.

Celtic almost levelled the game on 87 minutes when Mzwanele Mahashe’s flick-on from a free kick allowed Andile Fikizolo a sight of goal from close range, but Onyango made a sharp save to ensure Sundowns emerged victorious.

Bloemfontein Celtic 0

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Sirino 80’)

Celtic: Chaine, Letlabika, Mahashe, Chabalala (Masuku 90’), Ngobeni, Baloyi (Sera 90+2’), Phalane, Fikizolo, Mabena (Potsane 61’), Luthuli (Maema 61’), Letsoalo

Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca, Madisha, Nascimento, Lakay (Morena 90+4’), Mkhulise (Makgalwa 87’), Kekana, Coetzee, Zwane (Mkhuma 87’), Maboe, Sirino

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