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HomeSportWasteful Al Hilal miss last-minute penalty in Champions League draw with Sundowns

Wasteful Al Hilal miss last-minute penalty in Champions League draw with Sundowns

Cape Town — Mamelodi Sundowns and Sudanese giants Al Hilal played to a dramatic 1-all stalemate in their Caf Champions League Group B tie at the Blue Jewel Stadium, Omdurman, Sudan, on Saturday afternoon.

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The play was fairly dour throughout but in the final minute Tunisian referee, Sadok Selmi awarded Al Hilal a dubious penalty which came to nought because it was saved by Sundowns’ keeper Ronwen Williams.

There was so much riding on this match since the two Group B teams Al Hilal and 10-time Champions League title-holders, had yet to secure safe passage to the knock-out stages of Africa’s blue-ribband club competition.

As it turned out, the stalemate in Sudan still did not solve the problem, and the matter will be settled in the final Group B clash next month. The 1-all result would have raised a huge sigh of relief in Cairo because the Egyptians Al Ahly will live to fight another day.

Al Hilal will remain in second place on the Group B standings and they move up from eight to nine points. Sundowns, the Group B log-leaders, are on 11 points. They are in an unassailable position and are through to the knock-out stages.

At the start, the players ran out into an empty stadium because Al Hilal were slapped with a CAF ban that stipulates that they play behind closed doors.

After a pedestrian opening 1O minutes, mainly as a result of Sundowns’ slow-paced build-up movements, Al Hilal came to life with three shots on target in the space of four minutes.

With each parting shot from the hosts, goalkeeper Williams was equal to the task, and Al Hilal were denied. Makabi Lilepo, the DR Congo right wing, and his fellow national Fabrice Ngoma (midfielder) fired the shots that brought the best out of Williams.

As the first half wore on, Al Hilal managed more and more sorties into the opponents’ half. After 20 minutes, they had already managed five shots on target, despite being starved of possession.

While failing to exploit their chances, Sundowns grew in stature as their defence held out.

At the other end of the field, fullback Teboho Mokoena and midfielder Khuliso Mudau produced excellent shots to keep Sundowns in the picture. However, Abdullah Abou, Al Hilal’s goalkeeper made excellent saves.

Al Hilal’s first-half effort was disrupted by two injuries that were so bad that substitutes had to join the fray.

Referee Selmi issued two first-half yellow cards to Mokoena and Al Hilal defender Mohamed Saeed.

In the opening minute of the second half, Sundowns striker Themba Zwane came close to scoring, but his shot was fractionally wide as the opposition defence battled to clear their lines.

As play moved towards the hour mark, Sundowns’ continued to dominate and by this time the match was played mostly in the Al Hilal half. The pressure took its toll in the 67th minute when Abou could not hold on to a Sundowns free-kick and Mudau slipped the stray ball into the net (1-0).

Four minutes later, Sundowns were punished for a defensive error and Al Hilal captain Mohamed Abdelrahman pounced and scored the equaliser against the run of play (1-1).

On the stroke of time, Al Hilal missed a penalty. If they had scored, it would have seen them qualify for the knock-out stages, at the expense of Al Ahly.


IOL Sport

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