Mamelodi Sundowns got their Caf Champions League group-stage campaign off to a flying start after defeating Sudanese outfit Al-Hilal Omdurman 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Brazilians were without the services of Brian Onyango, Mauricio Affonso and captain Hlompho Kekana, while new signing Rushine De Reuck was named on the bench.
Sundowns got off to a great start and caused the Sudanese side an early scare in the eighth minute when Themba Zwane brought a great save out of the Al Hilal goalkeeper.
It was Sundowns who drew first blood when they took the lead two minutes later when Mosa Lebusa found the back of the net with a powerful header after receiving an excellent delivery from Lyle Lakay.
The Tshwane giants should have doubled their lead in the 16th minute after Sphelele Mkhulise got on to the end of a delightful reserve ball from Zwane, before drawing a save out of the Al Hilal keeper from his attempt at goal.
Sundowns continued to dominate proceedings after 29 minutes of play as Mothobi Mvala rose highest to latch on to an in-swinging free kick from Lakay, but the attacker guided his effort wide.
With two minutes left until the break, Peter Shalulile nearly made it 2-0 but the Sundowns forward narrowly missed Gaston Sirino’s inviting cross across goal as Sundowns took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Dennis Onyango was called into action four minutes after the restart when he made a good save to deny Al Hilal’s low-driven free kick.
Lebohang Maboe nearly found the back of the net in the 50th minute when he unleashed a powerful strike, just sailing over the crossbar after being picked out by Shalulile.
Onyango was called into action again nine minutes later when he rushed off his line to smother the ball from a one-on-one situation to deny Al Hilal a clear chance at goal.
Sundowns then opted to bring on fresh legs in the 65th minute when Zwane and Mkhulise made way for Kermit Erasmus and Lesedi Kapinga, respectively.
Lakay had a chance to extend his side’s lead on two occasions from a set piece, but the left back was denied on both occasions by the Al Hilal goalkeeper in the space of seven minutes.
The home side made their third substitution with four minutes left as Sirino was withdrawn and replaced by Thapelo Morena.
Sundowns eventually doubled their lead in stoppage time when Erasmus beat his marker before calmly slotting the ball past Outtara to make it 2-0 after some great hold-up play by the striker.
The Brazilians managed to hold on to their two-goal lead over Al Hilal to walk away with all three points in their opening Group B encounter at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
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