Sundowns edge plucky Celtic
Posted: 8 February 2017 Time: 18:42
Mamelodi Sundowns scored late in the second half to seal a 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in an Absa Premiership clash at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Wednesday.
Sundowns did all the pressing in the first half and took all the shots on and off target but it was Celtic that came closest to scoring when Atusaye Nyondo had a shot cleared off the line in the 44th minute.
It would have been a sucker-punch for The Brazilians, who asked all the questions of Patrick Tignyemb in the Celtic goal. However, but for one great save to keep out a Hlompho Kekana free-kick that was dipping into the corner, all those shots were straight at the goalkeeper.
Khama Billiat had the first sight of goal after 11 minutes but failed to connect with his shot which Tignyemb comfortably saved before Kekana warmed him up further with a stinging drive three minutes later, also straight at the Cameroonian.
Kekana and Billiat also each hit shots over the crossbar while Lucky Mohomi, starting ahead of Tiyani Mabunda in central midfield, failed to really test Tignyemb when a good opportunity opened up for him on the edge of the area.
Yet the moment of the match came just before half-time when Ricardo Nascimento's poor headed clearance fell to Nyondo unmarked and the big striker saw his goalbound shot cleared off the line by Morena, before Wayne Sandilands saved at the feet of Musa Nyatama on the follow-up.
[Above: New Algerian left-back Fares Hachi made an immediate debut and did not do too much wrong]
The second half continued in the same vein as Pitso Mosimane's side kept labouring towards the opening goal, doing just enough to create chance but still failing to test Tignyemb properly, until a moment of brilliance turned the contest.
Themba Zwane, who had come on for Sibusiso Vilakazi midway through the second half, received the ball unmarked in the area from fellow substitute Leonardo Castro and buried the chance, after showing great feet to beat the lunging Celtic defenders.
Zwane was in the right place again to bail out his goalkeeper Sandilands when he cleared off the line following a bad fumble by the second-choice goalie, with referee Naasif Julius making a very tight call in favour of Sundowns as Celtic pressed for an equaliser.
Celtic had their chances, particularly on the break and in the dying minutes when Lyle Lakay poked an effort just wide of Sandilands' goal, but the African champions held on for three points which, on the balance of play, was well deserved.
The result moves Sundowns up to fifth on the Absa Premiership standings, six points behind leaders Bidvest Wits with five games in hand. Celtic hover two points above the relegation places.
HOME: Bloemfontein Celtic
Coach: Lehlohonolo Seema
AWAY: Mamelodi Sundowns
Coach: Pitso Mosimane