Mamelodi Sundowns edged Zamalek 1-0 in a CAF Champions League Group B clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday night to reach the semi-finals of the competition.
Sundowns will now end Group B as winners and are likely to face either Wydad Casablanca or Zesco United in the last four, having maintained their 100 percent record in the group stages with nine points out of nine.
The game started slowly and tactically.
After Leonardo Castro missed a good chance in the eighth minute, feinting to beat a defender inside the box before blazing over the bar from inside the area, the game resembled more of a chess match than football.
The Egyptians sat deep as Sundowns passed the ball around at the back, unable to draw their midfield out to create space for their attackers, and chances were few and far between.
Then in the 38th minute the ever-lively Khama Billiat pounced on a loose pass in the Zamalek defence and powered towards goal, cutting the ball back inside and past the last defender onto his left foot before his shot was saved one-on-one by goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shenawy.
Teko Modise had a wayward shot early on and Castro wasn’t having the sharpest of nights up front, while Tebogo Langerman offered some danger going forward. Zamalek could only create a few half-moments and nothing more.
The second half produced a little bit more in terms of goalmouth action and Sundowns’ superiority over their opponents was clear to see as Keagan Dolly, Billiat and Castro continued to create openings right until the final whistle.
Percy Tau also joined the fray in the 65th minute and made the telling impact 14 minutes later when his low cross from the left was turned into his own net by Zamalek defender Ali Gabr.
Billiat threatened to make it 2-0 a few minutes after that but after skipping into the box and unleashing a powerful shot, the goalkeeper’s parried save was headed over the crossbar by Castro.
It’s a job well done for Downs, and on to the semi-finals.
Sundowns: Onyango, S Zwane, Nthethe, Soumahoro, Langerman, Kekana, Modise (Mbekile 87′), T Zwane (Tau 66′), Dolly, Billiat, Castro
Zamalek: El-Shenawy, Tolba (Fathy 83′), Gabr, Dowidar, Alifathy, Tawfik, Youssef, Abdelkhalik, Khaled (Hefny 83′), Shikabala (Abdelkader 68′), Morsy