Sundowns through to the MTN8 Semi-finals
Mamelodi Sundowns avoided an upset defeat in the quarterfinals of the MTN8 when they beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night.
The Brazilians have to come from behind against a resilient Phunya Sele Sele, but goals from Themba Zwane, Mosa Lebusa and Keletso Makgalwa ensured they avoided the fate of Cape Town City and Orlando Pirates, who suffered surprise home losses at the hands of Polokwane City and Highlands Park earlier in the day.
The teams traded half chances in the early stages, but Sundowns came the closest to a goal inside the first 45 minutes when Hlompho Kekana got on the end of a corner kick and saw his glancing header hit the far post.
The Brazilians enjoyed dominance in terms of possession, but they were unable to really test out Celtic goalkeeper Tshepo Chaine, leaving the match goalless at the halftime interval. Phunya Sele Sele, other than a sporadic threat on the counter, offered little in an attacking sense.
However, the team in green and white broke the deadlock 12 minutes into the second stanza. Ndumiso Mabena scored direct from a free kick just outside the ‘Downs penalty area, curling an effort around the wall to beat Denis Onyango’s left hand and put Celtic 1-0 up.
With just under 20 minutes of regulation time to play, Sundowns were awarded a debatable penalty for a collision in the 18-yard area between Lucky Baloyi and Keletso Makgalwa. Themba Zwane converted the spot kick to make it 1-1 in the 74th minute.
Five minutes later the hosts took the lead for the first time: Rivaldo Coetzee’s free kick delivery from the right flank found Mosa Lebusa, who scored with a beautifully-placed header past Chaine to set the Brazilians on course for victory.
The hosts did have one major scare in what remained of the game, with Mabena nearly levelling the score on 87 minutes as his left-footed shot had the beating of Onyango but rebounded off the crossbar, but shortly thereafter Keletso Makgalwa scored a fine solo goal with a toe-poke finish to wrap up the scoring at 3-1.
Sundowns advance to join Polokwane and Highlands in the final four, with the last semifinal berth set to be decided on Sunday in the clash between Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 3 (Zwane 74’ pen, Lebusa 79’, Makgalwa 89’)
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 1 (Mabena 57’)