Mamelodi Sundowns lost their CAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg to Al Ahly 2-0 in Cairo on Saturday 29 February.
In a tight and tense first half, there were very few cut and dried scoring opportunities with both sides starting cautiously.
Dennis Onyango was a commanding figure in the Mamelodi Sundowns goal, and his first touch was a decisive punch that dealt with an in-swinging free kick in the fifth minute of the match.
Mohamed El-Shenawy was equally adept in the Al Ahly goal and had to react quickly to prevent Wayne Arendse from getting on the end of a Gaston Sirino free-kick.
The Uruguayan Sirino made a lively start to the game but drew the attention of Al Ahly’s enforcers and took a bit of a kicking. Mahmoud Metwaly was booked for his challenge on Sirino in the 21st minute. Metwaly was the only booking of the half even though Al Ahly racked up a high foul count.
Sirino fired a long-range effort wide of El-Shenawy’s goal but as the half wore on Al Ahly had the better chances.
Sundowns skipper Hlompho Kekana might count himself lucky to have connected the ball with a wild boot just inside the penalty area with time winding down in the first period.
Onyango made a crucial late save in that first stanza but appeared to be injured in the process, and he finished the half gingerly. He wasn’t tested again before the break.
Despite the knock, Onyango took the field for the second half.
Al Ahly continued to dominate possession and commit fouls, but Sirino went close as the match approached the hour mark.
Al Ahly take the lead
The pressure finally told for the home side when Ali Maâloul burst into the Sundowns penalty area and fired a left-footed shot past Onyango to give Al Ahly a 1-0 lead.
The game fell into a pattern where Sundowns tried to play out of their half but would be cut down, from the resulting free kicks the ball would be knocked long, and Al Ahly would bring it back at them.
Hemmed in on hostile ground Sundowns needed to be resilient but a mistake at the back saw Aliou Badji brought down in the area and the referee point to the spot. Maâloul converted the spot-kick to give Al Ahly a 2-0 cushion.
After the penalty was awarded Pitso Mosimane withdrew Sirino, throwing on Samuel Mabunda and after the second goal, he brought on Phakamani Mahlambi for Sibusiso Vilakazi.
The Egyptian giants continued to pile forward in search of a killer third goal but when Ahmed Fathy curled his shot wide in added time it looked set to end 2-0.