Sundowns take slender lead to Casablanca

2017-09-17 18:18
Yannick Zakri (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns edged Wydad Casablanca 1-0 in the first-leg of their CAF Champions League quarter-final tie at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In a game where both teams were largely frustrated with the lack of clear-cut opportunities created, Sundowns managed to find the lead with a well-worked corner routine.

Yannick Zakri scored the only goal of the game midway through the second half, as the defending champions ousted last year's semi-finalists.

Downs goalkeeper Dennis Onyango talked up the fixture in midweek as the game of the tournament, and the opening stages reflected the notion made by the CAF African Player of the Year, with tireless running from both teams which nullified most of the attacking threat on display.

However, Hlompho Kekana nearly broke the deadlock in the eight minute with a fierce strike from range that looked to have nestled into the back of the net - but the shot was just inches away from the target.

A minute later Ismail El Haddad's cross found Badr Gaddarine, but the Wydad defender failed to test Onyango enough with a tame effort.

The Kings of Titles went close again midway through the half, but El Haddad's speculative left-footed effort sailed just wide.

Just before the break, the visitors enjoyed a decent spell of play and won numerous corners but the Brazilians held firm in defence and continued to frustrate the North Africans.

However, in the second half Pitso Mosimane's side took initiative of attacking play with Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Leo Castro combining well in advanced positions.

Tau in particular threatened with his pace in and behind the Wydad defence but was incorrectly ruled offside a couple of occasions.

Masandawana did eventually break the deadlock with an exquisite amount of creativity when Tau drilled a short corner to Zwane just inside the area. 

The Bafana Bafana playmaker then flicked the ball on to forward Zakri, who lost his marker and nipped in front of goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi at the near post to open the scoring.

That proved to be the only goal of the game in a heated affair, where both sides had to be restrained as tempers flared on the pitch and within the technical areas.

Downs now travel to Casablanca for the second leg on Saturday, September 23.


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