Tebogo Langerman sealed a round of 16 berth for Sundowns with a late winner against a spirited Ajax outfit
Mamelodi Sundowns had to fight till the bitter end but eventually defeated Ajax Cape Town 1-0 at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night, securing their place in the next round of the Nedbank Cup.
A game which was devoid of goals had to wait 117 minutes before Sundowns finally found the winner, a stunning 30 yard drive from Tebogo Langerman which beat a flailing Sander Westerveld.
The Nedbank Cup was officially kicked off by two sides desperate to salvage their seasons, battling it out in front of a sparse Cape Town Stadium crowd.
Sundowns controlled the early stages of the match and their first opportunity arose when Anthony Laffor sent in a rasping drive towards goal in the 12th minute, which rippled the side netting, sending the Brazilians’ fans into premature celebrations.
The Urban Warriors’ very own Brazilian Wanderson was brought down a minute later and claimed a penalty kick, only for the referee to give a rather dubious free-kick just outside the area.
The match was in full swing and Ajax began to find more time in possession. The home side missed two gilt-edged chances against the run of the play, as Nusa Lebusa was given ample time and space to score with his head, only to offer Wayne Sandilands a weak effort.
Minutes later, Wanderson beat two defenders with a mazy run and offered a pinpoint square pass into the feet of Lebogang Manyama, but the midfielder could only spoon his effort over the crossbar.
In the 40th minute, it was Sundowns’ turn to miss a golden opportunity as Pelembe found the goal at his mercy with only Sander Westerveld to beat, but the winger could only stroke an innocuous effort into the grateful arms of the keeper.
A first half of missed chances and poor finishing ended 0-0, with both sides coming close to finding the vital opener.
Ajax brought on Khama Billiat for Tafadzwa Rusike at the beginning of the second half with the talented forward hoping to add a cutting edge to the Urban Warriors’ profligate attack.
Teko Modise, an anonymous force during the opening 53 minutes was replaced by Nyasha Mushekwi, as Pitso Mosimane looked to find a way through Ajax’s defensive line-up which was being marshalled well by Matthew Booth.
During a second stanza robbed of goal-mouth action, Anthony Laffor almost found the opener for Sundowns on the hour mark, but Westerveld was on hand to palm the ball out safely around the post.
As the match entered its final ten minutes, extra-time beckoned and even Katlego Mphela could not find the winner for Sundowns, as the club’s top scorer missed an open goal after Esrom Nyandoro provided the striker with a pinpoint delivery.
Ninety minutes of goalless football meant the tie was set for extra-time. The additional thirty minutes seemed destined to end without a goal, but in the dying embers of the match Tebogo Langerman powered in a looping drive from 30 yards out which beat Westerveld and sent Sundowns into the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.