PSL

Sun sets on Sundowns' CAF dreams after Al-Ahly draw knocks them out of Champions League

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New Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane.
New Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane.
Al Ahly

The sun again set on Mamelodi Sundowns' CAF Champions League aspirations at the quarter-final stage when they were held to a 1-1 draw by defending champions Al-Ahly at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday.

As it happened | Mamelodi Sundowns' v Al-Ahly

The draw meant Sundowns lost the tie 3-1 on aggregate and allowed Pitso Mosimane's Red Devils to proceed to the semi-finals.

As with most CAF Champions League matches, the game was far from a spectacle. It was crammed with gamesmanship and plenty of chirping from the stands.

Al-Ahly had a sizeable traveling contingent that made its voice heard, while the Sundowns group were more content in chirping Mosimane.

Al-Ahly though held all the cards and when they scored in the 11th minute through Ibrahim El Hanafi, the tie was pretty much done.

Sundowns equalised through Mosa Lebusa 20 minutes later, but there was too much to do for them after the 2-0 first-leg defeat in Cairo last week.

Clearly deflated by the first leg loss in Cairo, Sundowns battled to impose themselves on the game.

With a two-goal lead and having not conceded an away goal, all Al-Ahly needed to do was to score first and put Sundowns under more pressure.

That they did in the 11th minute when with the first corner of the game, El Hanafi nodded the ball past a rather lethargic Denis Onyango.

The goal pressed Sundowns, who again were guilty of over-elaborating in the box, into a more direct approach.

It nearly paid off for them in the 18th and 19th minutes when Aubrey Modiba and Siphelele Mkhulise had shots saved and going narrowly wide.

The direct approach also meant Sundowns forced more corners than normal. It paid off in the 31st minute when Lebusa headed in Peter Shalulile's cross.

Sundowns though inexplicably fell asleep at the back and were nearly punished by Mohamed Moursy, who had spurned two chances in the 32nd and 34th minutes.

Sundowns though bounced back well and should have scored in the 37th minute, but Themba Zwane's soft shot went wide.

Sundowns continued to have the bulk of the second-half possession, but with Al-Ahly defending deep and not allowing Sundowns time on the ball when pressing high in their half, they were playing continental football of the highest class.

Sundowns had few clear-cut chances in the second stanza.

Modiba had a 51st-minute free kick that went wide of Mohamed El-Shenawy's net while substitute Mauricio Affonso had two chances that were wasted in the 53rd and 66th minutes.

Sundowns thought they had the crucial second goal in the 71st minute, but Shalulile's attempt was flagged for handball.

Knowing that Sundowns lacked the energy and the desire to score the three goals that would eliminate them, Al-Ahly were happy to sit back and absorb whatever Sundowns threw at them.

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Wed 15 Sep 21 18:00 PM (SAST)
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