Ntokozo Gumede
Football Writer
2 minute read
24 Oct 2021
6:43 pm

Lakay steals the show as Sundowns cruise into group stages

Ntokozo Gumede

The Masandawana free kick wizard strikes again.

Lyle Lakay is congratulated by his teammates after scoring against Maniema on Sunday. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man seems to be a phrase that was tailor made for Lyle Lakay every time Mamelodi Sundowns are handed a free-kick around the edge of the box. Lakay delivered what is increasingly his specialty as he netted a fine free-kick to give the Brazilians the lead and inspire them to an 2-0 win over Maniema Union at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

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Masandawana won the two-legged affair 4-2 on aggregate to reach the Caf Champions League group stages for the seventh time on the spin. While Lakay made sure that Downs went into the break with their noses in front, Sundowns could have been two goals to the good when Thabiso Kutumela fluffed his chance. He was found by Andle Jali on his bike and perhaps the best option was to play the ball back to Peter Shaulile but he went for glory and found the side net.

However, Shalulile would go on to get his goal, and this time it was Lakay who instigated the attack with a free-kick swung into the box. Goalkeeper Brudel Linyogo failed to hold on to the ball and the alert Shalulile made the most of the spilled ball to net his opener in the Champions League this season.

The visitors did not sit back and play dead as they probed numerous times such as when Steve Ehebelo launched the ball to Ricky Sindani, who then faced Denis Onyango in a move that looked goal-bound, but the Downs number one goalie proved why he is one of the highly rated goalkeepers on the continent as he pulled off a fine save to deny Maniema a goal.  

Masandawana’s Neo Maema, who came off the bench, made sure to keep the fire burning up front after its coaches withdrew the influential Shalulile and Themba Zwane. Maema provided the same kind of energy you’d see in Shalulile as he embarrassed defenders with his trickery and made them chase shadows for most of his time on the pitch. 

Maema did not succeed much in creating opportunities – the only chance he made for himself was when he dribbled past Maniema’s rearguard and made his way towards the goalie, only for Linyogo to quickly spring off his line and palmed the ball to safety.