Swallows fly past Downs into MTN8 final
A DEVASTATING opening 20 minutes from Moroka Swallows saw them run out 3-2 winners over Mamelodi Sundowns in yesterday's MTN8 semifinal second-leg thriller at Dobsonville stadium.
The Birds progressed to the September 22 final against SuperSport United with a 6-5 aggregate score, following a 3-3 draw in the first leg in Atteridgeville.
Swallows' three goals came from Lerato Chabangu (two) and Bennett Chenene, in an opening quarter that had Sundowns in disarray.
In a display of free-flowing football that hankered back to a long-ago era in SA football, Downs pulled one back via Teko Modise in the 23rd minute, then another through Nyasha Mushekwi deep in injury-time.
With the high standard of the semi-finals - SuperSport were impressive 3-0 winners over Orlando Pirates in the second leg at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night after a goalless first leg - the final will be much anticipated.
In all, 25 goals have been scored in eight matches in the competition, at an impressive 3.1 goals per game.
Swallows' pacey front-line tore Downs to shreds in the opening quarter. The Birds opened the scoring when Chabangu smacked home Siyabonga Nomvethe's cross in the 10th minute. Four minutes later the same pair were provider and finisher again, Nomvethe slipping Chabangu through to rifle home powerfully.
In the 19th minute Lefa Tsutsulupa's shot was blocked by goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, but Chenene headed in the rebound.
If Sundowns were to stand any chance then they needed to pull a goal back quickly, and they only had to wait four minutes before Modise curled in a free-kick from outside the area.
Tebogo Langerman almost made it game on again when his free-kick skimmed the crossbar in the 35th minute.
The Sundowns winger had another chance to reduce the deficit just after the break, getting a foot to Modise's cross, but Birds goalkeeper Greg Etafia produced an excellent reflex save.
As Sundowns ran out of ideas, Swallows increasingly contained the Pretoria side. And the Birds could even have added a fourth as substitute Katlego Mashego, with his first touch after replacing Joseph Makhanya, saw a shot blocked by Clayton Daniels in the 81st when the striker was bearing down on an open goal.
Mushekwi missed a sitter in the 87th, but the Zimbabwean did finally blast in a left-footed effort three minutes into injury-time.