Late VAR drama as Sundowns lose to Petro in Luanda
For the first time in this Caf Champions League campaign, Mamelodi Sundowns have their backs against the wall.
The Brazilians suffered a 2-1 VAR influenced loss to Petro Atletico side during the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal clash at a hot and humid Estádio 11 de Novembro on Saturday.
Sundowns manage the all-important away goal but they are going to need a strong reaction in the return match to take place at what is expected to be a packed FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Sundowns, who become the first team in the history of this tournament to finish the group stage with 16 points, thought they equalised through Neo Maema at the death but their goal was overturned by Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe after consulting VAR.
Petro came into quarterfinal match with some pedigree as they finished second in the group stages behind Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca and ahead of Zamelek of Egypt.
They will arrive in Johannesburg this week with confidence sky high and looking to wrap up this tie against former champions who have a good Champions League at home.
Sundowns coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena made two changes to the team that thrashed Golden Arrows 6-0 in the DStv Premiership on Tuesday at Loftus.
Utility player Thapelo Morena, who missed the past four matches in all competitions due to injury, replaced Bradley Ralani and Teboho Mokoena came in for George Maluleka.
Sundowns showed their intentions clear from the beginning and one of their notable early chances saw Petro defender Joaquim Kinito conceding a free-kick on a dangerous area after he was adjudged to have hacked Morena.
From the resultant free kick, Lyle Lakay drilled a powerful curling shot that pierced through the wall to beat Petro goalkeeper Wellington Gomes after five minutes for his second goal of the tournament.
The free-kick did not only result in the opening goal but it means that the influential Kinito will not be part of the proceedings in the second leg as his yellow card means he is suspended.
Despite being a goal down, the home side kept on creating opportunities and they were duly rewarded after 16 minutes with a close range deft finish by their Brazilian captain Tiago Leal.
The clever Leal sneaked between sleepy Sundowns central defenders Mosa Lebusa and Brian Onyango to beat ‘keeper Denis Onyango and score his sixth goal of the campaign.
Petro increased their lead on the stroke of half-time through striker Adriano Yano who pounced on a ball that rebounded off Denis Onyango from a back heel by Leal.
Petro’s attacking move ended with speedy and tricky winger on the right Jeredi Teixeira delivering a cross into the box that was flicked by Leal to Onyango who parried on the path of Yano pounce home.
Sundowns came back from the break more determined and in one of their threatening Peter Shalulile’s close range header was denied by alert Petro goalkeeper Gomes.
Petro Atletico (2) 2
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1
Scorers: Petróleos – Tiago Leal (16m), Adriano Yano (45m)
Sundowns – Lyle Lakay (5m)
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