Mamelodi Sundowns were knocked out of the Carling Knockout via penalties but the story of the game was TS Galaxy’s Bernard Parker being stretchered off after a nasty tackle from Bongani Zungu.
Lighting struck at the same place as Mamelodi Sundowns suffered yet another defeat via the shoot-out from the penalty spot – this time the Brazilians losing to TS Galaxy in the Carling Knockout.
Sundowns were beaten in a similar way by Orlando Pirates in the final of the MTN8 final in their last match.
Last night at the Mbombela Stadium, Rhulani Mokwena’s team showed their championship pedigree as they managed to come back from conceding two early goals and then a man when Bongani Zungu was sent off to force a 2-2 draw that saw the game going into extra time.
With no goals scored in the extended 30 minutes, the winner of this opening match of the new League Cup had to be decided via the shoot-out and when Brian Onyango missed Sundowns’ first kick it seemed it was going to be de ja vu.
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But then Galaxy’s Vladimir Siladi shot his kick (his club’s fourth) against the root of the upright and opened the way for Sundowns, with the shoot-out going into sudden death. Sundowns’ substitute Lesiba Nku then had his shot saved by Galaxy’s Rwandan debutant goalkeeper Fiacre Ntwari, the home team winning 5-4 via the shoot-out.
It was a smash and grab job by Galaxy as they scored two goals within three minutes in the initial quarter-hour as Sundowns – spotting a massive seven changes to the team that started in the MTN8 final – were enjoying the possession and looking in control.
Goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse gifted the host team possession with a poor pass straight in the middle and Galaxy lived up to their nickname The Rockets as they flew into the Brazilians’ danger area via Kamogelo Sebelebele. The winger then sent a through pass to find Higor Vidal in the box and the Brazilian’s cross towards the goals appeared innocuous until Zungu and Pieterse got into each other’s way – with the other expecting another to clear.
Siphiwe Mahlangu was quickest to the loose ball and stabbed it over the line as Sundowns’ Abdelmounaim Boutouil made a vain attempt at a sliding tackle.
Still in some shock at having conceded, Sundowns got punished for yet another defensive lapse just three minutes later when Mlungisi Mbunjana made a late run into the box and leapt up higher than Zungu while Rushnie de Reuck – starting for the first time in ages following a long injury lay off – and Mosa Lebusa were caught napping.
Galaxy had an opportunity to score a third on the 23rd minute but Lehlohonolo Mojela shot tamely and wide after doing well to get into a good position.
Typically, Sundowns knocked the ball about and dominated possession as they looked to get back into the game. But they just could not get it right in the final third, their shooting uncharacteristically misaligned.
They sent a free kick, headed by Boutouil on to the roof of the net on 28 minutes although the offside flag was already up. And shortly thereafter they attacked from the left and Marcello Allende’s low shot was blocked by the goalkeeper Fiacre Ntwari but bounced back to Pogisho Sankoa who appeared to pass it back to the Rwandan.
Allende protested a little too vehemently and the Sundowns skipper for the night earned himself a yellow card on an evening when referee Masicole Bambiso was giving them freely.
The Chilean then pulled one back for Sundowns on 58 minutes with a fantastic grass-cutting shot to beat the diving Ntwari and give the Brazilians hope of salvaging something out of the this opening match of the new League Cup.
But no sooner had the celebrations stopped than Mokwena’s team were losing a man to a red card after Zungu’s over the top tackle looked to send Bernard Parker’s foot getting out of joint in a bad way off the ankle.
Sundowns incredibly equalised in the final minute when Gaston Sirinho slotted home via a gentle half volley following a corner kick by the colossal Allende to force the match into extra time.
And then Mvelase almost stole the match for Galaxy with a last minute header from a free kick in extra time but his attempt chipped the crossbar and went over. They ended up having to do it the hard way, via the shoot-out as they handed Sundowns their second successive defeat via shoot-out from the penalty spot.