Sundowns off to positive start in Caf group stage wth win against Nouadhibou
Mamelodi Sundowns got their 2023-234 Caf Champions League group stage campaign off to a positive start as they convincingly saw off FC Nouadhibou of Mauritania 3-0 at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
Downs clinically probed and took their chances against a side who were tough to break down defensively but pedestrian in attack.
Brazilian Lucas Ribeiro Costa opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, his goal ace strike partner Peter Shalulile made it 2-0 in the 28th and substitute Gaston Sirino added the third with a well-worked free-kick in the 74th.
The Brazilians took the early lead in Group A on goal difference from second-placed Pyramids FC , who beat TP Mazembe 1-0 in their opening game in Cairo on Friday.
Rulani Mokwena's side put in a hard-working shift to break down Nouadhibou, a well-organised combination under 43-year-old Spanish coach Aritz López Garai.
Downs had the lion's share of possession — more than 60% — in the first half and mostly used it on the front foot, though without tearing through Nouadhibou. The Brazilians' 2-0 lead by the break was more from honest endeavour, probing and clinically taking their chances.
The Pretoria team were on attack from the start, Neo Maema playing wide to left wingback Thapelo Maseko, taking the return pass and forcing a stop from goalkeeper Babacar Diop in the eighth minute.
Downs opened the scoring soon after that. Khuliso Mudau won the ball deep in his half and cantered forward, picking out Shaluile in the middle who teed up Ribeiro to beat Diop with an expert low finish.
The second came six minutes later, Marcelo Allende's corner from the left picking out Shalulile to get above the defence and nod home.
Downs again clinically took another one of their two clear chances in a second half that unfolded in a manner much like the first — the home team pressing and seeking out the gaps that came their way.
First, in the 54th, Shalulile was played into the right of the area and his cutback was just behind Thapelo Morena who, falling backwards, struck over.
Twenty minutes later it was 3-0. Gaston Sirino, on earlier for Shalulile as part of a triple substitution that also saw Lebohang Maboe and Brian Onyango introduced, was fouled just outside the box by Diop. Referee Jean Ouattara of Burkina Faso reached for red for the keeper.
Substitute keeper Mamoudou M'bodj came on and promptly conceded as Sirino curled his free-kick round the wall from the left edge, just over his ducking teammates, and in at the foot of the right upright.