Brazilians power into quarterfinals

Mamelodi Sundowns booked a place in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup with a 3-1 win over Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Three exceptional goals from Mzikayise Mashaba, Khama Billiat and Hlompho Kekana saw the Brazilians end their cup jinx against Dikwena and avoid the fate suffered by fellow ‘big three’ sides Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, who were both eliminated on Saturday.

Stars almost caught Sundowns cold in the first minute of the match, with Robert Ng’ambi directing a cross from the right flank onto the near post. That early chance set the tone of the first half, which was an open and entertaining affair.

Sundowns were marginally the better team in the opening half hour and they claimed the lead on 29 minutes through an excellent team goal. At the end of an intricate passing move, Themba Zwane and Siyanda Zwane combined before the latter’s pull-back from the by-line was fired home by Mzikayise Mashaba.

Stars responded well to going a goal down and claimed a deserved equaliser just before the break. Robert Ng’ambi put Ndumiso Mabena into space on the right of the penalty area and his low shot-cross was swept home by Eleazar Rodgers to make it 1-1.

The second half lacked the fluency and rhythm of the first, though Sundowns looked the better team pushing forward. Stars were somewhat unfortunate after being forced into replacing key attacking players Ng’ambi and Mogakolodi Ngele, who both suffered injuries.

The match looked destined to go to extra time, but a lapse in Stars’ concentration allowed the Brazilians to reclaim the lead in the 82nd minute. Hlompho Kekana’s pass was picked up on the edge of the box by Khama Billiat, who provided a brilliant turn and finish to put his side 2-1 up.

And just two minutes later the visitors extended their lead to 3-1, as Kekana fired home an unstoppable shot direct from a free kick to end the match as a contest and assure Sundowns of a place in the quarterfinal draw.

Platinum Stars (1) 1 (Rodgers 44’)

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 3 (Mashaba 29’, Billiat 82’, Kekana 84’)

Stars: Dambe, Mere, Semenya, Sithole, Nonyane (Tshabalala 46’), Ng’ambi (Makudubela 65’), Msomi, Madubanya, Ngele (Mathe 74’), Mabena, Rodgers

Sundowns: Onyango, S. Zwane, Nthethe, Mphahlele, Langerman (Zungu 61’), Modise (Ramagalela 90+2’), Kekana, T. Zwane, Mashaba, Billiat, Malajila (Arendse 87’)