Mamelodi Sundowns booked their place in the 2016 Caf Champions League semifinals with a 1-0 win over Zamalek at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Wednesday evening.
An own goal from Ali Mossad Gabr deep into the second stanza, not only sealed the Brazilians place in the final four, but also confirmed them as Group B winners.
Without the suspended duo of Tiyani Mabunda and Wayne Arendse; Pitso Mosimane called on Teko Modise and Bangaly Soumahoro with Themba Zwane preferred to Anthony Laffor.
Despite missing a vital cog in Mabunda, the Brazilians dominated the early exchanges with Zamalek forced to defend deep into their own half. After relentless pressure, the hosts finally found an opening.
Leonardo Castro had time to pick his spot, but the Colombian could only succeed in blasting his resulting shot over the crossbar on eight minutes.
As the game progressed, Zamalek started to find their feet and as a result looked more and more threatening. New signing Ali Fathi, keen to impress his new employers, breezed past two defenders, but Denis Onyango did well to gather his resulting cross in the 22nd minute.
The game continued to ebb and flow with Khama Billiat forcing Ahmed El-Shenawy into a good save in the 33rd minute. The Zimbabwe international burst into the area before firing a powerful shot at goal from an acute angle – the Egyptian goal-minder was up to the task.
Billiat continued to lead Absa Premiership champion’s assault and was up to his old tricks five minutes later.
Similar to the build-up to his goal in Setif, the PSL Footballer of the season, who has attracted reported interest from the White Knights, bamboozled his marker – this time , though, he was unable to find the back of the net with El-Shenawy pulling off another superb save.
The African giants continued to slog it out after the break with Zamalek happy to sit back as a point would also work in their favour.
As a result; Sundowns had to be patient in their build-up, but sill the South Africans created chances. Keagan Dolly with a pin-point pass to Tebogo Langerman who was unlucky to see his rasping shot fly inches wide in the 58th minute.
Hlompho Kekana unleashed trademark shot on 75 minutes , but El-Shenaway was again up to the task.
With pressure mounting, Sundowns finally found the decisive goal in the 79th minute. Gabr steering the ball into the back of his own net following a low cross by second-half substitute Percy Tau.
Sundowns’ next game is against Enyimba on the 23rd of August.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) (Gabr 79 OG)
Mamelodi Sundowns: Onyango; S.Zwane, Nthethe, Bangaly, Langerman – Kekana, Modise (Mbekile 86′), T.Zwane (Tau 65′) – Dolly, Billiat, Castro
Zamalek: El-Shenawy; Ali Fathy, Dowidar, Gabr, Tolba (Fathi 81′) – Tawfix, Youssef, Abdelkhalik – Shikabala (Abdelkader 69′), Khaled (Hefny 83′), Morsy
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