Motjeka Madisha challenged by Evans Rusike during the 2017 MTN8 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium © Backpagepix

Maritzburg United stunned Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in a 2017 MTN8 Cup quarter-final match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.

The hard-fought win sees the Team of Choice join Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City and SuperSport United in the semi-finals, while the Brazilians are eliminated from the competition.

The game got off to a lively start with the two sides playing at a high tempo and both goalkeepers were called into action in the first 15 minutes of the encounter.

Sundowns forward Khama Billiat made a good run into the United box, before forcing goalkeeper Bongani Mpandle into a comfortable save.

At the other end two minutes later Maritzburg midfielder Lebohang Maboe unleashed a thunderous shot which was well saved by Sundowns keeper Kennedy Mweene.

The two teams were battling for control of the midfield with Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana looking to stamp his authority in the middle of the park.

Mpandle had to be alert in the 25th minute as he snatched Percy Tau’s cross with Sundowns forward Yannick Zakri lurking behind him like a vulture.

With the half-time break fast approaching, Maritzburg’s attacking midfielder Maboe found some space outside the Sundowns box.

However, the new South Africa international’s long-range attempt was brilliantly saved by veteran Zambian goal-minder Mweene in the 44th minute.

The last chance of the first-half fell for Billiat and the Sundowns talisman fired wide of the target from close range, and the score was 0-0 at the half-time break.

Sundowns were very unfortunate not to break the deadlock seven minutes after the restart as Thabo Nthethe’s header beat Mpandle, but it rattled the post and the ball was cleared away.

However, it was the visitors, who took the lead in the 58th minute when Siphesihle Ndlovu set-up Evans Rusike, who fired home following a quick counter-attack making it 1-0 to Maritzburg.

An unmarked Billiat should have equalized when Sundowns full-back Thapelo Morena beat his marker, before playing a good cross for the Zimbabwe international.

But the former Ajax Cape Town playmaker somehow headed the ball over the crossbar as the Team of Choice survived a scare with 25 minutes left on the clock.

Pitso Mosimane, the Sundowns head coach, introduced the club’s high-profile new signings Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese in the closing stages of the match as the hosts searched for a late equalizer.

The pressure mounted on Maritzburg with Sundowns attacking in numbers, but the visitors looked dangerous on the counter-attack with Andrea Fileccia spearheading their attack.

Kekana had a chance to snatch a late equalizer from a free-kick on the edge of the Maritzburg box in the 87th minute. However, Mpandle produced a fine save to ensure that Maritzburg emerged 1-0 winners.

Sundowns (0) 0
Maritzburg (0) 1 (Rusike 58′)

Sundowns: Mweene, Morena, Madisha, Nthethe, Langerman, Vilakazi (Manyisa 73′), Kekana, Billiat (Lebese 80′) Tau, Zwane, Zakri (Laffor 61′).

Maritzburg: Mpandle, Fransman, Weidlich, Sanoka, Makaringe (Xulu 89′), Mekoa, Shandu, Ndlovu, Van Wyk (Kunene 62′), Maboe, Rusike (Fileccia 73′).

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