Absa Premiership

Sundowns reach Nedbank Cup final after dramatic late winner

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Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Sifiso Hlanti and Phathutshedzo Nange of Wits during the Nedbank Cup semi-final at Orlando Stadium on 8 August 2020.
Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Sifiso Hlanti and Phathutshedzo Nange of Wits during the Nedbank Cup semi-final at Orlando Stadium on 8 August 2020.
Gavin Barker/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns reached the Nedbank Cup final after Lyle Lakay's stunning free-kick in the dying moments secured a 3-2 win over Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium.

AS IT HAPPENED | Sundowns 3-2 Wits

Sundowns will play Bloemfontein Celtic in the final, after Phunya Sele Sele earlier beat Baroka FC 3-0.

In the first half, Ricardo Nascimento's spot-kick fired Sundowns in front before Terrence Dzvukamanja eventually levelled matters deep in the 76th minute. However, Keletso Makgalwa put Sundowns back in front a couple of minutes later, only for Dzvukamanja to again restore parity. But it was Lakay who netted the match-winner in the sixth minute of injury-time with a memorable free-kick.

The first stanza proved to be a somewhat disjointed affair, with both sides understandably lacking match sharpness after a lengthy layoff from football.

After a cautious start to the encounter, the match sprang to life in the eighth minute when former Sundowns defender Buhle Mkhwanazi produced a timely intervention to avert a certain goal-scoring chance.

Wits hit back with a chance of their own a few minutes later after a well-worked set-piece allowed Haashim Domingo to run into space and fire a shot at goal. Hlompho Kekana put his body in the way of Domingo's shot, though, as the 'Downs defence recovered and cleared the danger.

The Clever Boys again went close a few moments later as Deon Hotto let fly from range, but goalkeeper Denis Onyango managed to take the sting out of it before gathering the ball at the second attempt with Cole Alexander waiting to pounce.

Sundowns midfielder Sphelele Mkhulise briefly threatened to fire Sundowns in front in the 14th minute as he made a driving run into the danger area but his shot on goal took a big deflection and was collected with ease by Wits 'keeper Brighton Mhlongo.

After a brief lull in play, 'Downs again threatened to break the deadlock as Themba Zwane played a neat one-two with Sibusiso Vilakazi before unleashing a first-time shot straight into the grateful arms of Mhlongo.

Following short breather for a water break, play resumed and after a period of sustained pressure Sundowns were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute. Mkhwanazi was penalised for pulling the shirt of Motjeka Madisha and the referee pointed straight to the spot, Nascimento holding his nerve to slot the penalty home.

Sundowns managed to hold onto their slender advantage as the first half petered out, but there were more twists and turns to come after the half-time break as Wits mounted a memorable comeback.

Wits eventually clawed their way back on level terms in the 76th minute, Dzvukamanja catching Madisha dallying on the ball near the halfway line before breaking forward and slotting the ball past the onrushing Onyango.

Sundowns mustered a response just two minutes after the restart, albeit with a very big helping hand from Mhlongo who rushed off his line only to fluff his clearance, allowing Keletso Makgalwa to fire into an unguarded net.

Credit to the Wits players, though, because they didn't let that setup derail them, and they again bounced back on level terms as Dzvukamanja again capitalised on a mistake from Madisha to bag his second of the evening.

However, it was Sundowns who had the last say, curling a sumptuous free-kick just past the reach of Mhlongo and into the top corner deep in injury-time.

- TEAMtalk media