Downs out of Champions League
Posted: 20 April 2016 Time: 18:38
Mamelodi Sundowns exited the CAF Champions League despite a 2-1 win over AS Vita at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday night, with the visitors winning on away-goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.
Downs started positively and had their first opening in the fifth minute when Khama Billiat slipped in Leonardo Castro, who got into the area down the left channel and tried to return the pass but it was intercepted.
Castro had another chance down the left channel in the 12th minute after fighting well for the ball but with very few bodies to aim at in the box, the Vita goalkeeper comfortably claimed the cross.
In fact, Sundowns got into several promising positions as Billiat, Castro, Keagan Dolly and Themba Zwane all found themselves passing around the box but there were precious few shots at goal, with the final ball often lacking.
Then came a huge sucker-punch in the 39th minute.
Downs switched off for a moment and conceded possession to Vita, Morrison was allowed too much time to cross from the right and Kule Mbombo stole ahead of Thabo Nthethe on the six-yard box to prod home a precious away-goal.
The goal shook the Brazilians, who had been all over Vita up until that point but now found themselves 2-0 down on aggregate.
Fortunately for Downs, the hard-working Castro chased down every ball and did well to win a rather soft penalty off the goalkeeper after beating him to a ball into the area in the 41st minute.
Nthethe stepped up and made up for his defensive mistake with a cool finish into the bottom-left corner to drag Downs back to 1-1 on the night and 1-2 on aggregate at half-time.
Pitso Mosimane brought on Teko Modise for Zwane just before the break, no doubt looking to 'The General' to provide the cutting edge in the second half.
The second half became frantic and end-to-end as both teams missed good chances in the middle period, with Vita arguably enjoying the best two chances. Goalscorer Mbombo missed one-on-one with Wayne Sandilands early on and then struck the crossbar from close range after doing brilliantly to set up the chance in the 61st minute.
Sundowns eventually got the goal their play deserved as Nthethe slipped through a delightful ball to Langerman, who finished under the keeper from a tight angle.
But the more chances Sundowns missed – and they missed several opportunities, with Billiat having a particularly frustrating night – the more inevitable the time-wasting tactics became from the visitors, their goalkeeper going down at least four times for injury treatment.
Only four minutes of stoppage time was added when at least eight should have been signalled, much to Mosimane's frustrations on the touchline, but there was nothing more he could do as his pleas fell on deaf ears.
In the end, despite Downs' overall dominance, they had the same number of shots on target as Vita (4) and eight off target to Vita's five, and the visitors also struck the woodwork.
Vita progress to the group stage while Sundowns will now drop into the CAF Confederation Cup.
Sundowns: Sandilands, Mphahlele, Nthethe, Arendse, Langerman, Soumahoro (Mbekile 55'), Kekana, T Zwane (Modise 45'), Dolly, Billiat, Castro (Malajila 87')
AS Vita: Lukong, Bafola, Mutambala, Bompunga, Kupa, Mbambu, Ikanga (Muzinga 71'), Morrison, Batezadio, Mbombo, Traore