Mamelodi Sundowns come up clutch to progress to CAF Champions League semi-finals

Mamelodi Sundowns come up clutch to progress to CAF Champions League semi-finals

Mamelodi Sundowns were pushed all the way in their CAF Champions League quarter-finals by Tanzanian giants Young Africans.

After playing out a goalless draw at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night, following their 0-0 first-leg stalemate, it was Ronwen Williams who emerged as the hero for the Brazilians with two saves from a penalty shootout that ended 3-2 in favour of the South African champions.

The start of the clash began in frenetic fashion with both sides looking to attack from the very first whistle.

Yanga looked to get in behind the Sundowns defence early on but Grant Kekana did well to shepherd the ball away from danger before Khuliso Mudau completed the clearance.

It was the Brazilians who were certainly the more adventurous side in the opening exchanges, with Thembinkosi Lorch lively on the left flank as he twisted and turned inside the Yanga box, but his lofted cross was well headed clear by Joyce Lomalisa.

Lorch tried again moments later to beat his man from the left but this time his delivery was cleared for a corner.

Sundowns may well have taken the lead from the resultant set-piece but Lucas Ribeiro Costa headed a good Aubrey Modiba ball just past the right-hand upright.

Yanga were struggling to cope with Sundowns' pace in attack and the tackles began to fly in, leading to a number of free-kicks for the home side.

Marcelo Allende floated in a superb set-piece on 16 minutes that was headed clear in a packed Yanga box.

The speed remained relentless and Yanga finally managed to break a high press from Sundowns and get up the field, only for Stephane Aziz Ki to fire a low cross into the arms of Sundowns stoper Ronwen Williams.

Divine Lunga wanted a penalty on 25 minutes after going down in the Yanga box but the referee waved play on.

Young Africans goalkeeper Djigui Diarra then did well to rise highest and pluck the ball out of the air from another good Allende free-kick, from the right of the pitch on 31 minutes.

The Brazilians remained in the ascendancy but were just being let down by their final pass and some last-gasp Yanga defending.

A rare foray forward for the away side on 32 minutes saw Joseph Guede Gnadou fire a low shot wide of Williams right-hand post and he was was nearly in on goal moments later when Diarra blasted a kick out of his hands the full length of the pitch, only for an advanced Williams to calmly catch the ball with the Yanga forward looking to pounce.

Sundowns were toying with their opponents as their confidence grew, and on their favoured left side as Modipa got forward and cut a teasing ball back to the awaiting Peter Shalulile but the Yanga defence cleared under immense pressure.

There was a moment of panic in the Sundowns box when Aziz Ki managed to square the ball inside the area but luckily for the home side there was not an attacker in sight to finish what would have been a simple tap-in.

The action continued to swing from end to end and Lunga wasted a great chance to put his side into the lead when the ball broke to him from a wayward Yanga pass, but Diarra made a strong save, much to the frustration of the Sundowns bench.

The away side threatened with a 43rd minute free-kick that was swung in from the left that Kekana did well to head clear, while Sundowns dealt comfortably with the resultant corner before starting another attack that ultimately came to nothing with Shalulile looking to latch on to a good ball from Allende.

The home team would have been frustrated to head down the tunnel for the half-time break without having made the most of their possession but came out for the second half in a similar attacking mood.

They continued to win free-kicks as the second period got underway but Allende could only find the head of Yanga defender Bakari Nondo, while Shalulile's attempted header back to a teammate failed to find its intended target and another effort was wasted.

Yanga, meanwhile, waited anxiously to find out if a rocket of a shot from Aziz Ki on the hour mark had crossed the goal line with Williams beaten - with replays seemingly showing the ball had infact crossed the goalline, only for the referee to award a drop ball for Sundowns.

Moekoena came close with a long-range effort that curled away from goal, but Yanga were certainly causing more problems for the Brazilians, who were not as dominant as in the first half.

Costa's flicked header on 65 minutes flew over the Young Africans crossbar, and with spaces beginning to open up as the match wore on it became increasingly difficult to determine who would claim this tie and secure their semi-final berth.

Both sides began to ring the changes, with Themba Zwane withdrawn by Sundowns in favour of Thapelo Maseko and Gaston Sirino coming on for Lorch, while Clement Mzize replaced Kennedy Musonda for the visiting team.

Shalulile was offside when he attempted a snapshot on the turn inside the Yanga box, with his attempt also well blocked, while Diarra made a strong reaction save to stop Sirino from firing home after some slick passing in front of the area.

Yanga really should have scored on 78 minutes following a thrilling attack that saw Aziz Ki feed Mzize with a neat square ball inside the Sundowns eight-yard area but the substitute somehow scuffed his shot to leave the tie hanging in the balance.

With time running out, just a single mistake was poised to settle this tie but ultimately both teams held firm until the 90th minute to head straight into the agony of a penalty shootout.

Yanga kicked first and Williams guessed the right way to keep out Aziz Ki.

Allende was first to step up for Sundowns and he smashed his spot-kick into the roof of the net, having sent the keeper the wrong way.

Yanga substitute Augustine Okrah calmly slotted his kick to the left of the goal with Williams standing no chance, while Diarra kept his side in the side with a strong save to keep out a good low effort from Sirino.

With the shootout poised at one goal apiece, Williams again came to his side's rescue to deny Yanga defender Dickson Job.

Costa slotted his kick ahead of a successful strike from Gnadou to keep both sides level pegging.

Next up was Downs substitute Neo Maema and he made no mistake with a top quality hit that no keeper in the world could be expected to save.

Yanga's hopes rested with Ibrahim Hamad but the occasion got the better of the defender as he skied his effort and handed the tie to Sundowns, who progressed to the semi-finals of the competition by the skin of their teeth.

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