Mamelodi Sundowns were pushed to the limits before running out 3-2 extra-time winners against a gallant Stellenbosch FC side in a Nedbank Cup last-32 clash.
CAPE TOWN – Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns were pushed to the limits before running out 3-2 extra-time winners against a gallant Stellenbosch FC side in a Nedbank Cup last-32 clash at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday evening.
Three minutes from the end of extra time, Peter Shalulile scored his second goal to secure victory for his side and condemn Stellenbosch to the Nedbank also-rans scrapheap.
Sundowns’ attack was in full cry from the outset, and midfielder Themba Zwane was off target after just 30 seconds play.
Fellow midfielder Lyle Lakay was next to pull the trigger, and he did so twice in quick succession, but Stellenbosch keeper Sage Stephens was well in position to gather.
This dominant start by Sundowns all pointed to a potential goal fest as Stellenbosch’s defence looked decidedly vulnerable.
However, Stellenbosch, against the run of play, took the lead in the 11th minute. At a time when Sundowns’ defence was operating at a pedestrian pace, Stellenbosch striker Ashley du Preez pounced to intercept a pass near the halfway line. He raced off at lightning speed before slipping the ball past opposition keeper Ricardo Goss (1-0).
Five minutes later Sundowns were on level terms after their ace goal-poacher Shalulile beat the offside trap and ran in unchallenged to score (1-1).
Around the half-hour mark, Stellenbosch managed a few runs into the Sundowns half. However, they lacked composure and often lost their way in the final third.
Dominant Sundowns were unable to add to their tally by the time the first half ended. The stats showed that Sundowns managed 11 shots at goal, against a miserly two from their opponents.
Stellenbosch’s first-half hero Du Preez, did not return for second-half action after picking up an injury towards the end of the opening half. Leletu Skelem joined the fray in his place at the start of the second half.
In the opening 20 minutes of the second half, Sundowns continued to dominate and even with a 65% possession advantage they were unable to create scoring chances. There seemed a lack of urgency in Sundowns’ ranks, but Stellenbosch were not able to take advantage.
After a spell of fine inter-play from Sundowns around the fringes of the Stellenbosch goalmouth, Shalulile had a chance to score. However, his parting shot plumb in front was snatched brilliantly by Stephens in the 71st minute.
Two minutes later Stephens again denied Sundowns and this time he deflected a shot from midfielder Gaston Sirino.
Eventually, Sirino undid the stalemate with what was seemingly an injury-time winner, but almost as play resumed Stellenbosch worked the ball upfield and substitute Phathutshedzo Nange hammered home a goalmouth feed to force the match into extra time (2-2), where Peter Shalulile scored his second goal to put Sundowns through.