SUNDOWNS MARCH INTO KNOCKOUT STAGES IN STYLE

Mamelodi Sundowns comfortably marched into the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League after easily brushing aside Nigeria’s Lobi Stars 3-0 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday evening.

The former champions got the job done in the first half with all three goals coming from Thapelo Morena, Themba Zwane and Lebohang Maboe as the game was put to bed before the break.

It took just two minutes for Sundowns to find the opener after Uruguayan import, Gaston Sirino’s long ball found Thapelo Morena who perfectly times his run for the finish.

Anthony Laffor was unlucky not to double the lead just two minutes later when his shot from the edge of the area was well saved by Olufemi Kayode.

The first chance at goal for the West Africans came in the 9th minute after Alimi Sikiru dribbled past the Downs defence to toe-poke a shot which was saved by Africa’s number one keeper, Denis Onyango.

The in-form Laffor showed class in the 18th minute after laying off the ball for the ever-green Hlompho Kekana who volleyed his effort inches wide off target.

Stars could not deal with the relentless attack of the hosts and made school boy errors in dangerous areas. The Nigerians were almost punished after Zwane won the ball in the middle of the park to send Morena free on goal who chipped his effort but was unfortunate to see his shot bounce off the woodwork in the 25th minute.

Downs’ nippy forward, Lebohang Maboe did well to connect to a cross from Sirino with a well-timed diving header which was saved by Kayode.

The second came for the former champions in the 38th minute after Zwane showed composure in the box after good interplay to double the lead. Things got even worse from the restart after Maboe stole the ball from deep for a brilliant solo run that concluded in a clinical finish to make it 3-0 before the break.

The Nigerians came back a more structured side from the break even though they couldn’t really penetrate the resolute wall of Sundowns. This forced the visitors shoot from outside the box which hardly troubled Onyango.

Sundowns got back into their rhythm and almost found the fourth after a well worked move from Sirino and Zwane concluded with the latter’s strike being saved by Kayode to keep Stars in the game.

Oluwadamilare Ojo almost pulled one back for the visitors in the 72nd minute after positioning himself well to for a header which was unfortunately saved by Onyango. Sikiru, who was hardly present in the game squandered the best chance of a consolation goal just minutes later after doing well to turn in the box but sent his effort wide off goal with just the keeper to beat.

Sundowns face their newly found, Champions League foes, Wydad Athletic Club away in the last group match with the comfort of having already secured their place in the knockout stages.

Source: Confederation Africaine de Football

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