Tough run takes toll on Sundowns

CUP CLASH: Mamelodi Sundowns’ Keagan Dolly, left, and SuperSport United’s Thuso Phala during their Telkom Knockout quarterfinal match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria  Picture: GALLO IMAGES
CUP CLASH: Mamelodi Sundowns’ Keagan
Dolly, left, and SuperSport United’s Thuso Phala during their Telkom Knockout quarterfinal match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria
Picture: GALLO IMAGES

African champions Mamelodi Sundowns were eliminated from the Telkom Cup on Saturday after losing a quarterfinal on penalties against 10-man SuperSport United.

The Pretoria derby finished 0-0 after extra time at Lucas Moripe Stadium and SuperSport toppled the title-holders 3-1 in a shootout.

Sundowns’ Thabo Nthethe and Sibusiso Vilakazi had penalties saved by Ronwen Williams and Aubrey Modiba converted what proved to be the decisive spot-kick in between.

Sundowns defeated Zamalek of Egypt 3-1 on aggregate last month to win the Caf Champions League for the first time.

A severe domestic fixture backlog has forced them to play four league and cup games in 10 days since conquering Africa and they won two, drew one and lost one.

United ended a run of seven losses in all competitions despite playing for almost an hour with 10 men.

Onismor Bhasera was controversially sent off just past the hour with the referee flashing a yellow card for a foul, then changing it to a red one.

Bhasera, who had not been cautioned earlier in the match, was punished for pulling back fellow Zimbabwean Khama Billiat outside the box.

There was more drama in the second minute of extra time when a seemingly legitimate Sundowns’ goal scored by substitute Anthony Laffor was ruled offside.

Big-screen replays show the Liberian was clearly onside when he rifled a close-range shot into the roof of the net. Both sides almost broke the deadlock from free kicks, with Sundowns’ captain Hlompho Kekana and New Zealand-born Jeremy Brockie, of SuperSport, foiled by the woodwork.

“We battled, we ran and we snatched victory,” beaming SuperSport coach Stuart Baxter said.

“Our first-half performance was dreadful as we constantly surrendered possession, but the boys displayed tremendous heart after the red card.”

Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane said: “We could have played all night and not scored.

“Some of our football was brilliant, but poor finishing let us down.

“SuperSport were stubborn opponents and shootouts are always a lottery. I did not think the disallowed goal was offside.”

In another Telkom clash, Pirates put a record-equalling 6-1 thrashing four days ago by SuperSport in the league behind them to edge Highlands Park 2-1 in Soweto.

An own goal by Zimbabwean Augustine Mbara and a tap-in from compatriot Tendai Ndoro gave the Buccaneers a two-goal lead that Mothobi Mvala halved through a header.

Peruvian Augusto Palacios took temporary charge of the first team for the fifth time in a long career at Pirates after Turk Muhsin Ertugral quit via e-mail following the crushing midweek defeat.

Hosts Baroka wiped out two- and one-goal deficits against Cape Town City in Polokwane before losing 4-3 after extra time with Sibusiso Masina grabbing the 115th-minute winner.

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