AJAX Cape Town ended Mamelodi Sundowns’ unbeaten run and denied them a return to the top of the Absa Premiership with a stunning 3-2 win at the Lucas Moripe Stadium yesterday.
The Brazilians looked set to leapfrog back to the top of the log after taking a 1-0 lead into half time thanks to a goal from Lebogang Mokoena, but second half strikes from Terror Fanteni and Nhlanhla Vilakazi put the Urban Warriors ahead.
Punch Masenamela made it 2-2 with less than ten minutes to go, but Khama Billiat netted a winner in injury time to see the Cape side claim a dramatic win in the five-goal thriller.
The first half belonged to Sundowns, who were easily the better team. They almost opened the scoring as early as the 13th minute, with Musa Nyatama getting onto the end of a good pull-back from Katlego Mphela, but Ajax’s Aidan Jenniker made an excellent, goal-saving block.
Six minutes later some crazy defending from the visitors put their goalkeeper Sean Roberts under pressure, but it ended with the Brazilians winning nothing more than a corner kick. The set piece saw Mphela win a header at the near post, but Roberts made a good save.
On the half hour mark the Brazilians were rewarded for their dominance, opening the scoring through wide attacker Lebogang Mokoena. He scored with a left-footed shot through a crowd of players after Roberts had done well to keep out a shot from Mphela’s just a few seconds earlier.
In the 36th minute Sundowns almost doubled their advantage. Franklin Cale hit a wicked, dipping volley from long range that had the beating of Roberts but crashed into the crossbar.
Ajax had been totally outplayed in the first half and in the early stages of the second they gave little indication that they would be able to turn the game around so dramatically, as the Brazilians continued to look by far the better team.
However, the Urban Warriors’ comeback sparked into life just past the hour mark when they drew level at 1-1. Terror Fanteni controlled a long ball out of defence, pushed into space and unleashed a fierce shot that Wayne Sandilands was helpless to stop.
Just over ten minutes later the Cape side went in front for the first time. Lebogang Manyama unleashed a long range shot that was saved by Sandilands – however, the ball rolled free in the penalty area and Nhlanhla Vilakazi had an easy task to fire the ball home and make it 2-1.
With eight minutes to play, Sundowns set up the game for a dramatic finale by making it 2-2. Punch Masenamela picked up the ball on the edge of the Ajax penalty area and fired a left-footed drive into the back of the net. Roberts got a hand on the shot, but it had too much power to be pushed aside.
The game seemed to be there for Sundowns to win in the dying minutes, but instead it was the Urban Warriors who provided the late heroics. In the first minute of injury time Ajax sliced open the Brazilians’ defence and Khama Billiat – who had been completely anonymous throughout the regulation 90 – popped up to slide home the winning goal at 3-2.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Mokoena 30’, Masenamela 82’)
Ajax Cape Town (0) 3 (Fanteni 62’, Vilakazi 73’, Billiat 90+1’)
Sundowns: Sandilands; Mphahlele, Mwanjali, Daniels, Masenamela; Modise (Mushekwi 66’), Moriri, Nyatama; Mokoena (Okpako 74’), Mphela, Cale
Ajax: Roberts; Hlatshwayo, Mokeke, Allie, Jenniker (Evans 78’); Shabalala (Rusike 53’), Maluleka, Vilakazi; Manyama, Fanteni (van Graan 87’), Billiat.-Backpagepix