Johannesburg: Mamelodi Sundowns wrapped up a hugely successful domestic season by clinching the Nedbank Cup, as they defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in the final at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
The result, secured by a late goal from Gaston Sirino, saw the Brazilians complete a treble of trophies for the 2019-20 campaign, adding to their successes in the Telkom Knockout and Absa Premiership.
Sundowns looked the livelier team in the opening minutes and created half-chances for the mercurial Themba Zwane, though the midfielder was not able to trouble goalkeeper Sipho Chaine with either.
Celtic posed a major threat with their pace on the break and Victor Letsoalo was perhaps unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when he threatened to get in behind the ‘Downs defence in the seventh minute and had a tangle of legs with the back-tracking Gaston Sirino.
On the half hour mark Zwane was a menace to the Celtic defence again, as he ran onto a clever reverse ball from Lebohang Maboe, but Chaine came quickly off his line to make a block with his legs.
The closest the game came to a goal in the first half was a looping Letsoalo header in the final minute of regulation time, but Brazilians goalkeeper Dennis Onyango made a brilliant finger-tip save to push the effort over his crossbar.
Sundowns very nearly broke the deadlock 13 minutes into the second half through Sirino, who turned into space just inside the penalty area and got away a right-footed shot which had the beating of Chaine but struck the inside of the ‘keeper’s left-hand upright and bounced across the goal line and away to safety.
Just past the hour mark, Celtic shuffled their pack in attack by introducing Tebogo Potsane and Neo Maema off the bench, yet it was the Brazilians who continued to look the likelier scorers. On 80 minutes, ‘Downs were finally rewarded with a goal.
Sirino picked up the ball on the left of midfield and drove forward – Celtic’s defenders curiously backed off and allowed the Uruguayan to get within a couple of metres of the edge of the box before he unleashed a shot which skidded off the turf and beyond the left hand of Chaine before rippling the back of the net, 1-0.
Celtic almost levelled the game on 87 minutes when Mzwanele Mahashe’s flick-on from a free kick allowed Andile Fikizolo a sight of goal from close range, but Onyango made a sharp save to ensure Sundowns emerged victorious.
Bloemfontein Celtic 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Sirino 80’)
Celtic: Chaine, Letlabika, Mahashe, Chabalala (Masuku 90’), Ngobeni, Baloyi (Sera 90+2’), Phalane, Fikizolo, Mabena (Potsane 61’), Luthuli (Maema 61’), Letsoalo
Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca, Madisha, Nascimento, Lakay (Morena 90+4’), Mkhulise (Makgalwa 87’), Kekana, Coetzee, Zwane (Mkhuma 87’), Maboe, Sirino. Psl.co.za