Reports & Previews

Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 Lobi Stars

Mamelodi Sundowns booked their place in the knockout stages of the CAF Champions League after cruising to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lobi Stars at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

Masandawana were at their devastating best in a one-sided first half, as goals by Thapelo Morena, Themba Zwane and Lebohang Maboe put them firmly in the driving seat at the half-time break. Despite producing a much improved performance after the break, Stars were unable to breach an obstinate defence as Downs survived the second half with their clean sheet intact.

It took Downs just two minutes to stamp their authority on proceedings, with Morena slotting home from close range after Gaston Sirino's inviting cross into the danger area.

They very nearly added a second goal three minutes later, but Anthony Laffor saw his driven effort from outside the box kept out by Lobi Stars keeper Olufemi Kayode.

Stars hit back with two chances in quick succession, but the initial shot by Alimi Sikiru was palmed back into the danger area, and Ezekiel Mbah failed to hit the target after pouncing on the rebound.

Laffor was again denied by Kayode in the 13th minute, while team-mate Hlompho Kekana somehow failed to hit the target after letting fly from the centre of the box.

Downs kept pressing forward in numbers as they went in search of a second goal, with Thapelo Morena denied by the crossbar in the 25th minute, before Lebohang Maboe saw his goalbound header saved by Kayode.

However, they weren't to be denied in the 38th minute as Zwane fired into the bottom-right corner from the centre of the box, Sirino providing the assist once again.

Lobi Stars were still reeling from the second goal when Sundowns struck again from the restart, Maboe firing into the bottom-left corner from inside the area.

The visitors went very close to pulling one back in the 42nd minute as Yaya Kone tried his luck from range, but Denis Onyango was equal to the task, saving in the top-left corner.

Despite facing a near impossible task in the second half, Lobi Stars showed no signs of giving up as they laid siege to Sundowns' goal for large passages of play.

However, a combination of a lack of cutting edge in front of goal and good goalkeeping by Onyango meant the visitors were unable to grab a consolation goal in the second half.

Ezekiel Mbah and Austine Ogunye were both denied by Onyango midway through the second half, while Alimi Sikiru failed to hit the target with two chances in quick succession.

However, that was to be the last noteworthy action as Sundowns managed to hold firm in the final 15 minutes to claim all three points in their penultimate Group A fixture and seal their place in the knockout stages of the CAF Champions League.