Mamelodi Sundowns booked their place in the Nedbank Cup final after claiming a thrilling 3-2 victory over Bidvest Wits at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Pitso Mosimane made five changes to his side which beat Highlands Park in the quarter-finals by bring Mosa Lebusa, Rivaldo Coetzee, Sphelele Mkhulise and Nicholus Lukhubeni in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, Gavin Hunt gave Brighton Mhlongo his first start in the competition while captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Deon Hotto and Haashim Domingo returned to the squad.
The game got off to a slow start with both teams trying to find their rhythm in the opening exchanges.
Wits had the first chance at goal as Denis Onyango fumbled Deon Hotto’s long-range strike, with Cole Alexander failing to hit the target on the rebound.
Sundowns started to gain momentum and had their first real chance at goal in the 22nd minute as Themba Zwane unleashed a strike from the edge of the box, but fired his effort straight to Mhlongo after linking up Sibusiso Vilakazi.
The Brazilians were then awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark after Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi brought down Motjeka Madisha in the area. Ricardo Nascimento stepped up and made no mistake from the spot kick.
The Students pressed forward in the closing stages of the game but were unable to create any clear-cut chances as the game went into the break 1-0 in favour of Sundowns.
Sundowns came out with intent in the second half as Sphelele Mkhulise managed to test Mhlongo from just outside the box, but he failed to beat the Wits keeper with his effort.
Hunt made a double substitution in the 46th minute when he took off Kgaogelo Sekgota and Lorenzo Gordinho for Rowan Human and Zitha Macheke.
Onyango was called into action in the 52nd minute when he read the danger to rush off his line to clear the ball from danger as Hotto made his way into the box.
Mosimane made his first change of the game when Keletso Makgalwa came on to replace Vilakazi, while Wits brought on Bienvenu Eva Nga to replace Haashim Domingo.
Wits had a good chance to level matters in the 67th minute but Terrence Dzvukamanja’s flick sailed just over the crossbar.
Sundowns then opted for fresh legs in the 72nd minute when Andile Jali and Lyle Lakay came on to replace Themba Zwane and Mkhulise.
Wits then levelled matters four minutes later when Dzvukamanja stripped Motjeka Madisha from the ball before racing down the field to slot the ball past Onyango.
Sundowns then made it 2-1 in the 80th minute when Onyango played a long ball forward to Makgalwa, who slotted it into an empty net after an error from Mhlongo.
Hunt’s side then levelled matters for the second time five minutes later when Dzvukamanja’s skilfully beat his market to fire the ball past Onyango from close range.
Lakay then sealed Sundowns’ place in the final after firing his curling free kick last Mhlongo in injury time as the game ended 3-2.
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