‘Downs edge Mazembe to secure top spot

‘Downs edge Mazembe to secure top spot
Arsene Zola Kiaku of TP Mazembe challenges Lebohang Maboe of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2021 CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and TP Mazembe on the 16 March 2021 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium , Pretoria / Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Mar 16, 2021. 20:06

Mamelodi Sundowns secured a narrow 1-0 win over TP Mazembe at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday evening, a result which guarantees top spot in Group B of the CAF Champions League.

Lebohang Maboe netted the only goal as the Brazilians made it four wins from as many matches in the group, while the Ravens’ quarterfinal hopes remain alive – they may be bottom of the standings on two points, but Al Hilal and CR Belouizdad are only a point ahead with two rounds remaining.

Sundowns started the game with control and composure in midfield, but it was Mazembe who had the first shot in anger, with Philippe Kinzumbi’s long range effort well saved by goalkeeper Denis Onyango in the ninth minute.

The DRC side had a few more forays forward, but it was the Brazilians who opened the scoring on 28 minutes, with Maboe providing a crisp finish beyond goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro, following great set-up play by Themba Zwane.

The Ravens quickly shook off the blow of going behind and almost forced an equaliser on 34 minutes, with the dangerous Tresor Mputu stringing the palms of Onyango with a well-hit effort, though ‘Downs almost caught their opponents napping at the back in the dying minutes of the first half, as Gaston Sirino curled a shot inches wide.

A goal down at the break, Mazembe made a double change at the start of the second half, introducing Sudi Bibonge and Jean Baleke off the bench. The visitors immediately applied pressure in attack, with Onyango saving a deflected shot from Bibonge in the 48th minute.

The Ravens had further chances for Baleke and Joel Beya, but some heroic defending – and class ‘keeping from Onyango – allowed Sundowns to hold them at bay. The hosts also introduced Andile Jali and Mauricio Affonso midway through the second half to both wrestle back control in midfield and offer more of a direct threat in attack.

The hosts had chances to add to their advantage in the dying minutes, with Peter Shalulile missing out on a couple of headed opportunities, but they did not prove costly, with the South African champions running out 1-0 winners.

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Maboe 28’)

TP Mazembe 0

Sundowns: Onyango, Morena, De Reuck, Lebusa, Lakay, Mkhulise, Coetzee (Affonso 68’), Maboe (Domingo 77’), Zwane (Modiba 78’), Sirino (Jali 68’), Shalulile

Mazembe: Mounkoro, Beya (Tshibangu 77’), Chongo, Kalaba (Bibonge 46’), Kinzumbi (Baleke 46’), Kouame Koffi, Mpeko, Mputu (Mayombo 63’), Mwape, Ochaya, Zola

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