South-Africa

Brazilians battle past minnows EC Bees

2018-03-14 07:12
Hlompho Kekana (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns eventually showed their class as they came from a goal down to beat EC Bees 2-1 at Loftus Versveld to book a place in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals.

Pitso Mosimane's side, who were being guided by assistant Manqoba Mngqithi on the evening, got off to a bad start when Joseph Chikile gave the Eastern Cape outfit a 16th-minute lead.

Khanya Mini thwarted Downs on numerous occasions to ensure the Bees stayed ahead at the break, but they were pegged back straight after the restart by a bullet shot from Hlompho Kekana, before Thapelo Morena won the last-16 tie 14 minutes from time.

The Absa Premiership leaders enjoyed almost all of the possession in the opening stages and Jeremy Brockie was unfortunate to see his header deflected over the crossbar by the covering defender from Anthony Laffor's cross from the right in the 10th minute.

Laffor was finding plenty of room on the right and quick feet took him past George Gawe on the by-line to pick out George Lebese inside the six-yard three minutes later, but the winger was brilliantly denied by Mini with two saves in quick succession.

It proved to be a crucial moment as the visitors went up the field to break the deadlock. Mini's long ball forward was cleared to Siyabonga Zulu, whose poor back-pass let in Chikile and after his low cross at the near post was spilled by Kennedy Mweene, the striker bundled the ball over the line on the follow-up.

Sundowns looked to respond as Thokozani Sekotlong sent a header wide at the back post from Themba Zwane's dinked cross on the right in the 18th minute, before Mini made a brave save at the feet of the winger on the half-hour mark after a neat one-two with Lebese on the edge of the box.

However, their failure to regularly threaten the ABC Motsepe club during the first half frustrated the home fans, who were making their feelings known.

The Brazilians did finish the half strongly, though, with Zulu missing the target at the back post from Morena's cross on the right in the 41st minute, before Mini produced another two fine saves to keep out Laffor and Lebese inside the box.

But Kekana eased nerves right after the restart as he was allowed too much space outside the box and the midfielder unleashed a rocket that flew past Mini into the back of the net.

The Sundowns captain looked to repeat the feat on 64 minutes, but his strike from distance was too close to Mini on this occasion, while Sekotlong steered a header wide at the near post from substitute Leandro Sirino's cross on the left two minutes later.

The Bees should have restored their lead on 70 minutes when Chikile broke through the middle on the counter before feeding Sihle Mtule on the right, but he was forced wide and curled a left-footed shot just wide of the far corner from inside the area on the right.

The Tshwane giants completed the comeback six minutes later in a move started and finished by Morena, who intercepted a pass on the halfway line and combined with Brockie on a couple of occasions before guiding the striker's cut-back into the left corner of the net.

Sekotlong had a late chance to seal victory, but he fired over from a tight angle on the right, while Mtule squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to equalise at the death when he headed wide of the right post after the ball was played back across the danger area.

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