Laffor nets late as Sundowns edge St George

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns secured a 1-0 victory against Saint George in their Group C Caf Champions League encounter on Saturday, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.

Pitso Mosimane named an unchanged side from the team that drew 0-0 against Tunisian giants Esperance ten days ago. The defending Champions League winners occupy second spot in the group standings and victory would take Mosimane’s side a step closer in a bid to retain their African title.

Backed by their boisterous home crowd, St George started the brighter of the two sides and looked to break the deadlock as early as possible.

Neither side were able to string together passes owing to a bumpy pitch, but it was the home side who continued to look more dangerous as a botched clearance from Motjeka Madisha almost saw the Ethiopian side come close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

Saint George should have taken the lead three minutes later, when Tebogo Langerman was dispossessed in his own half, which resulted in Taha Khenissi missing a sitter from within the area.

Sundowns gradually adapted to the conditions, but failed to get into their usual fluid passing game, opting for balls over the top. Masandawana came close to opening the scoring, but Anthony Laffor ballooned his effort over the bar after some great work by Percy Tau.

The home side were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, with Anele Ngcongca said to have handled the ball in the area, however Caf African Based Player of the Year Denis Onyango ensured that the scorelines remained level as he saved the resultant penalty.

The second half was much more of a fierce battle between the two teams, with a tight midfield battle ensuing.

Laffor looked the most likely source of goals for the visitors, as he proved to be a constant menace with his pace and trickery, however the Liberian winger was let down by a lack of support upfront.

Hlompho Kekana came agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the 63rd minute, but his ferocious strike from distance was well-saved by goalkeeper Robert Odongokara.

Mosimane opted for his first substitution of the game in the 68th minute, as Thapelo Morena made way for Zakri.

With twenty minutes left to be played, both sides upped their tempo in search of the all-important goal, and it was Laffor who showed his composure and quality to pip home the winner in the 85th minute.

The result sees Sundowns go equal on points with log leaders Esperance, who face AS Vita club at 17:00.