Stars break Sundowns hearts
Method Mwanjali of Mamelodi Sundowns battles with Henrico Botes of Platinum Stars (Backpage)
Pretoria - Robert Nga'mbi netted a late strike as Platinum Stars fought back from a goal down to beat Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday afternoon, progressing to the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
Sundowns went ahead through skipper Teko Modise in the 61st minute, before Thuso Phala equalised 10 minutes later, but Nga'mbi stole the show, and the win, for the visitors three minutes from time.
The Brazilians started tentatively as both sides felt each other out, but the hosts were in with the first opportunity in the 12th minute.
VIDEO: Mamelodi Sundowns v Platinum Stars, highlights
A searching pass from Teko Modise was expertly controlled by Edward Mnqele, who had only the goalkeeper to beat, but Siyabonga Mpontshane was equal to the task and made a solid save to deny Sundowns the opener.
Stars applied plenty of pressure midway through the first half and continued to ask questions of the Sundowns defence, but failed to trouble goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.
The hosts managed to find the back of the net 10 minutes before the break, but from an offside position, after Modise toed in past Mpontshane after a goalmouth scramble. Referee Jerome Damon's assistant raised his flag, cutting short the home supporters' celebrations.
Stars came out in the second period looking fired up and were rewarded with a free kick in a dangerous position 30 seconds into the stanza. An unmarked Tintswalo Tshabalala lurked at the back post and headed his effort goalwards, only to be thwarted by a terrific save from Sandilands, who palmed away the effort as the scores remained unchanged.
With the home crowd growing increasingly frustrated with the Brazilians' attack, an inspired moment from Modise broke the deadlock, after a failed clearance fell to the skipper, who volleyed home with less than half an hour left.
The goal sparked a period of frantic action, with Sundowns coming close through Mnqele and Rodgers, while at the other end, Mogakolodi Ngele and Bafana Bafana winger Thuso Phala looked dangerous in front of goal.
Sundowns capitalised on their advantage, maintaining the pressure, and soon had second-half replacement Richard Henyekane hitting the upright in the 67th minute, coming within a whisker of doubling the Brazilians' advantage.
Downs' celebrations were once again short-lived when Phala was left unmarked at the back post, allowing the pacey forward to head home from close range, after Stars whipped an accurate delivery into the box, beating four defenders on the way to Phala, who cancelled the opener 20 minutes from time.
Henrico Botes came close for Stars in the 81st minute, before Sandilands came to his side's rescue four minutes later, palming away Botes' powerful header, which looked destined for the top corner.
With the clock winding down, Phala whipped in a dangerous free kick toward the back post, which Lindokuhle Mbatha knocked across the face of goal, allowing Nga'mbi to slot home unchallenged.