Esrom Nyandoro proved the hero on the day for Mamelodi Sundowns as his first goal of the PSL season handed his side a 1-0 victory over Black Leopards in a Nedbank Cup last 16 match at Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Although the Brazilians were the favourites going into the match the Leopards were definitely the better side on the day despite losing the match to a late goal from the ?Downs captain.
The Leopards started the better of the to sides as they looked to take the game to the Brazilians early on, determined not to be steam rolled by the Tshwane giants. This was none more evident than through the first five minutes which saw two long range efforts from the Leopards just narrowly missing the target.
First, in the second minute of the match Khethokwakhe Masuku drove forward and tried his luck from about 35 yards out. Fortunately for Brian Baloyi in the ?Downs goal the shot just went wide as he scramble across his goal line. Then two minutes later Samson Mofokeng also watched his long range shot just skim the wrong side of the up-right.
Nonetheless, despite the Leopards dominance Sundowns tried to find their way back into the game with Matthew Pattison doing the hard work in the middle of the park to give his side the some kind of fighting chance.
The Brazilians first real chance of the game only came in the 29th minute and was in fact sparked by Pattison. After some brilliant build-up play, which saw a couple of one-twos, Benedict Vilakazi found himself through on goal, 12 yards out and with only the keeper to beat. The Leopards goalie Ayanda Mtshali, however, was in no mood to be beaten pulling off a fantastic save diving to his right to palm the effort around the post.
Mtshali was called into action again seven minutes later with another great save, this time diving full stretch to his left to tip a 25 yard Pattison free-kick over the crossbar.
The best chance of the half, however, definitely fell the way of the Leopards two minutes into first half injury time. A free-kick was fired into the Sudowns box and as Baloyi went to make the save he only succeeded in fumbling the ball into the path of two Black Leopard attackers who fumble over themselves to get a shot off which gave Baloyi the chance to make a fine double save.
Returning to the field for the second half it seemed the Brazilians fell asleep in the change rooms as the Leopards dominated proceedings to a large extent in the second stanza.
Mofokeng proved to be the main danger man almost single handedly causing havoc for the ?Downs defence. The Leopards striker should certainly have put his side in front in the 56th minute when he showed some beautiful skill to beat a couple of players to put himself in a one-on-one situation with Baloyi. But with acres of time and space he squandered the golden opportunity pushing his effort wide of the target from only ten yards out.
Mofokeng caused some more trouble only seven minutes later when he whipped in a dangerous low cross which Baloyi fumbled, but was lucky enough to see no other Leopard players following up.
Then with Sundowns first clear-cut opportunity in the second half and against the run of play the Brazilians stole the lead five minutes from time. Esrom Nyandoro latched onto a corner-kick clearance on the edge of the box and struck a wonderful volley which sailed in the bottom right hand corner of the net to give his side the lead, 1-0.
After scoring Sundowns proceeded t play some keep bal and were able to hold onto their lead stealing victory from Black Leopards on the day.