Thapelo Morena breaks Marumo Gallants' hearts with late winner as Sundowns secure treble

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Marumo Gallants' Joseph Malongoane of Marumo Gallants FC and Brian Onyango clash in the 2022 Nedbank Cup Final.
Marumo Gallants' Joseph Malongoane of Marumo Gallants FC and Brian Onyango clash in the 2022 Nedbank Cup Final.
Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
  • Goals from Thapelo Morena and Peter Shalulile were enough to secure Mamelodi Sundowns' sixth Nedbank Cup final title.
  • Shalulile's goal was cancelled out by Junior Dion, but Morena slammed the winner in the 119th-minute to clinch the title.
  • The win ensured Sundowns snared their second domestic treble in three seasons.

That Mamelodi Sundowns won their sixth Nedbank Cup title in beating Marumo Gallants 2-1 at a festive Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng on Saturday indeed made them worthy champions.

However, it was a cup title they had to sweat for as their season-long fatigue nearly got the better of them as an energetic Gallants side probed and prodded until the very end.

AS IT HAPPENED | Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 (aet) Marumo Gallants

After Junior Dion's 76th-minute equaliser canceled out Peter Shalulile's 33rd-minute opener, but Thapelo Morena's 119th-minute winner sealed the deal for Sundowns.

It was a hard-fought win that in the end, Sundowns deserved, but had to fight hard for their success, but an unnecessary pitch invasion that showed up the inadequacy of the security soured the end event.

In the cool of the Rustenburg night, the tempo of the final never slowed down and both goalkeepers were kept busy throughout.

Washington Arubi, whose heroics allowed Tshakuma Tsha Madzhivandila to win the tournament last season, was called into action in the fifth minute to foil Neo Maema.

Then six minutes later, Khuliso Mudau also had a chance, but that was narrowly wide of Arubi's net.

A minute later, the first bit of controversy unfurled when the nippy Katlego Otladisa was fouled in the box, but referee Masixole Bambiso chose not to award the spot-kick.

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The moment happened in front of the small, but noisy Marumo Gallants traveling contingent, and they made their displeasure known.

The game then settled into a fast-paced midfield battle where the sides battled to retain possession for sustained periods.

While it was scrappy, it also allowed the game to open up as they tried to outflank each other to the final third.

One such movement led to Sundowns' opening goal in the 33rd-minute as Sirino's sweeping run and cross were punched by Arubi.

However, he sent it straight to Shalulile, who then bundled his 29th goal of the season via Lehlohonolo Nonyane's head.

Five minutes later, Sirino tried to double the lead, but his chance went narrowly wide of Arubi's net.

Gallants were true to their name and chose to fight and when Otladisa nodded a cross over Kennedy Mweene's net in the 39th-minute, they were still keen on a scrap.

And a scrap it was for large parts of the second half as opportunities came, but went as power and glory were sacrificed for accuracy.

It spoke of the frayed nerves of the sides as Sundowns, who already have won the two available trophies this season, had an increasing sense of desperation.

Gallants have had a middling season, but with a coach like Dan 'Dance' Malesela, who has experience in winning this trophy as a player and coach in his storied career, they always seem to have something to give.

That did in the 76th-minute through substitute Dion, who was in an offside position when he nodded in Celimpilo Ngema's deflected cross.

However, that goal was justice for the clear penalty they were denied, but having consistently probed and prodded, they were rewarded for their persistence.

Otladisa had a golden chance to increase the lead in the 79th-minute, but his chance went wide.

The last 10 minutes were helter-skelter but lacked the endeavour that would lead to a decisive goal.

Gamesmanship crept into the first half of extra-time that didn't hold too many goal-scoring opportunities.

Two of them were for Sundowns and both were set pieces that Lyle Lakay blazed over the bar. The first one, in the 100th-minute, saw Joseph Molongoane antagonise Lakay and that successfully put him.

The second one three minutes was harmless, but also showcased the threat Sundowns posed from set-pieces.

Before Phillip Ndlondlo was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 110th-minute, the second half of extra time wasn't drama-filled.

Bambiso's inadequate game was summed up when he missed a clear handball in Gallants' box, but Sundowns kept calm.

They opened up Gallants' defence and when Zwane threaded the pass that Morena banged in, the stadium erupted.

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