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Zesco United edge Sundowns in CAF Champions League semi-final
Sundowns reached the semi-final after finishing top of Group B, while Zesco United were runners up of Group A. The news of Zamalek defeating Wydad Casablanca 4-0 on Friday raised eyebrows of the strength of Group A, but the Zambian Super League champions proved that notion wrong.
Excluded from Sundowns squad was the ever-effective Colombia forward Leonardo Castro, while Zesco United had to play without the influential midfielder Cletus Chama, who missed out due to suspension.
The encounter embarked on an electric note when Jesse Were squandered a one-on-one chance with goalkeeper Denis Onyango. On the other end, it was Jacob Banda denying Keagan Dolly.
The picture of the opening half was Mamelodi Sundowns playing cautiously as they formed a solid backline, making it hostile for the host to get into the area.
Kenyan hitman Jesse Were squandered great opportunities on two occasions when he had to beat the goalkeeper only, depriving Zesco United from taking the lead at half time.
Nine minutes into the second half, the fullback Simon Silwimba provided a swinging cross into the area as Jackson Mwanza rose high and headed home.
Two minutes later, Zesco United won a set piece and Mwape Mwelwa took a brilliant shot which hit on Mwanza’s leg to the lower corner of the net, allowing the former Al Merriekh forward, who started the term as an out of favor striker, to complete his brace.
A mistake in Zesco’s defense led to Khama Billiat pulling a vital away goal for Sundowns in the dying minutes of the game, as he controlled a cross and scored with a low shot from inside the box, reducing the deficit to 2-1.
The Zambian champions travel to Lucas Moripe Stadium for the second leg on September 24.