Bloemfontein Celtic end Mamelodi Sundowns jinx with superb MTN8 victory

Bloemfontein Celtic end Mamelodi Sundowns jinx with superb MTN8 victory

The Brazilians started life without head coach Pitso Mosimane on the back foot after a defeat to Phunya Sele Sele

Bloemfontein Celtic ended a four-year winless run against Mamelodi Sundowns with a 1-0 victory in a hard-fought MTN8 quarter-final encounter at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday evening.

Victor Letsoalo was the match-winner with a cleverly-taken goal midway through the second half.

And after losing four times to Sundowns last season alone (twice in the cup and twice in the league), it was certainly sweet revenge for Celtic, who put up a spirited performance in Pretoria.

The first half belonged mainly to the Brazilians, although Phunya Sele Sele did have a couple of good chances of their own.

It was, however, Celtic keeper Jackson Mabokgwane who was the busier of the two shot-stoppers, starting in the sixth minute when he did well to get down quickly to push away a close-range shot by Ricardo Nascimento, who had been left unattended at a corner.

It took a while for the next opening to arrive, and this time it fell the way of the Free State side, but a sharp reaction by Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango meant the opportunity was snuffed out before Sera Motebang was able to pull the trigger in the 28th minute.

A couple of minutes later the action returned to the other end where Mabokgwane made an outstanding reflex stop as he got down to claw Gaston Sirino’s near-post flick to safety, following Lyle Lakay’s accurate cross.

Mabokgwane also pouched a long-range shot from Hlompho Kekana in the 32nd minute before Motebang missed a decent chance for Celtic when he fired a volley into the stands from inside the box.

Just before half-time, Masandawana were denied what they thought was the opening goal when Peter Shalulile’s header was correctly called off-side.

Shalulile was at it again straight after the restart, drawing a save from Mabokgwane although it was the visitors who nearly went ahead in the 48th minute when Victor Letsoalo’s angled drive flashed over.

Just before the hour mark Sundowns were inches away from taking the lead when a typically thunderous Kekana shot from 30-yards out smashed off the crossbar and nearly crossed the line but instead bounced back into play.

Phunya Sele Sele were always in the game though and they shocked the hosts by taking the lead in the 68th minute when Letsoalo’s deft header from a Ronald Pfumbidzai free-kick nestled in the back of the net.

From then on, it was all about whether Celtic could hang on for the final 25 or so minutes.

But they managed it well and even had a couple of chances on the counter-attack to add another goal,

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