Taariq Fielies on target as City edge Sundowns

Benni McCarthy, coach of Cape Town City, acknowledges the club's supporters Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Cape Town City claimed the 'halftime' advantage after a 1-0 victory over a weakened Mamelodi Sundowns in their MTN8 semifinal, first leg.

At a wet Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening, defender Taariq Fielies blasted the ball home with 15 minutes remaining to hand Benni McCarthy's side a narrow victory, but with the away leg to come in Pretoria next Sunday, it is a tenuous lead.

This is especially so as a Sundowns side that had nine changes and a number of fringe players included still managed to look dangerous, twice hitting the woodwork and having a legitimate-looking goal from veteran Liberian striker Anthony Laffor chalked off for offside.

City had other chances of their own and looked enterprising at times, but will know that the toughest test remains ahead of them in Sunday's second leg. 

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane rang the changes with an eye on Tuesday's must-win CAF Champions League clash at home to Horoya of Guinea. 

The likes of Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino, Hlompho Kekana and Wayne Arendse were all rested, while midfielder Lucky Mohomi made a first start in 15 months, and Sphelele Mkhulise and Guinea-Bissau forward Toni Silva were given their first starts for the club.

Laffor thought he had put his side in front when he appeared to beat the offside trap with a well-timed run and fired the ball past City goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh.

But referee Phillip Tinyani ruled out the effort for offside when replays suggested Laffor was level with the last defender.

City striker Matthew Rusike had a strike saved by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, while early in the second half diminutive midfielder Thabo Nodada set up Craig Martin just a few yards out from goal, but the latter's backheel effort went agonisingly wide.

Debutant Mkhulise struck the crossbar with a curling shot from the edge of the box as Sundowns pressed at the other end, before City took the lead.

Ayanda Patosi had been a threat all game with his set-pieces and when Rusike headed his long corner back into play, Fielies reacted quickest and turned the ball home from 10 yards.

Patosi thought he had added a second shortly afterwards with an excellent shot, but Mweene produced a brilliant save to keep the ball out.

Sundowns came close again as Anele Ngcongca saw his header from a corner strike the crossbar, but City were able to hold on for a fourth victory in six outtings against The Brazilians.