The all Southern African CAF semi-final was played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
As predicted, the Zambians came out fighting from the first whistle, hoping to get a goal in the first fifteen minutes as is their style. Their furious attack resulted in some great saves from Sundowns goalie Denis Onyango, who had to make two brilliant saves as the Zambians broke through.
In addition, the Sundowns defence kept their calm, and made sure that the attacks from the Zambians remained without profit.
Zesco continued attacks from the left and right into the box provided a massive challenge for the Sundowns defence, and Thabo Nthete and Wayne Arendse cut off all attacks, with the midfield led by Hlompho Kekana falling back to help in the defence.
The two last-line defenders made some critical intercepts from crosses from both the left and right field, and started counters which matched the Zesco defence.
As expected Jesse Jackson Were was a thorn in the flesh, and Denis Onyango rushed out to make a diving save but was injured in the process.
But in the counters, both Khama Billiat and Themba Zwane had opportunities, but their efforts went wide or ended with saves from Jacob Banda, the Zesco goalkeeper.
Perhaps the best chance for Sundowns during this period came from Tiyani Mabunda, but once more Banda made a diving save.
And then Percy Tau produced some magical play, tapping the ball over a Zesco defender in typical style, but he was then adjudged to have handled the ball to much protestation, rightfully so.
The pace of the game provided the fans with excitement throughout as both sides tried for the critical goal, and once Sundowns had survived the early onslaught, they began to make their way into the Zesco box but failed to capitalise in the final third play.
The two teams went into the break with the score at 0–0, and coach Mosimane must have warned the boys of early attacks in the second half. True to form, Zesco netted their first goal, and while Sundowns players still had their heads down, they netted their second to take a 2–0 lead. Jackson Mwana got the first, a header after he beat Wayne Arendse to the ball, and then tipped the ball into the net from a set-piece to leave Onyango rooted to the ground.
The second goal was conceded within a minute when a low shot from a free kick 30 metres out found the back of the net. The Sundowns defence may have had valid claims for offside but it was 2-0 and the match was slipping away from the Brazilians.
But if the Zambian side hoped that the Tshwane giants would give up, the Brazilians mounted attack after attack probing for an away goal.
Mosimane knew how critical an away goal was going to be, and he pulled off Siyanda Zwane who was on a yellow card, for the more attack-minded Asavela Mbekile, and the experienced Teko Modise was brought on for Themba Zwane.
Khama Billiat, who had been kept quiet for most of the game, made a run into the box and was brought down, but the referee waved away his appeal for a penalty – earning him a yellow card instead.
Then Percy Tau who was having a great game shot over the bar.
Mosimane then brought on Anthony Laffor, sacrificing defender Tebogo Langerman, and the Liberian had an early opportunity shooting on the volley but over the cross bar on a first time opportunity.
The Zambians took advantage of the all-out attack from Sundowns and Idris Mbombo’s effort was once more saved by Onyango, who was having a blinder of a game.
Sundowns’ pressure paid off when Billiat benefited from a cross and found himself unmarked, and the Zimbwabwean made no mistake when he sent the ball into the near corner off the upright when the goalkeeper anticipated a shot to the far end, to provide Mosimane with the away goal he was looking for.
A ratttled Zesco tried hard to get another goal, and under pressure, made numerous errors as Sundowns put them to the sword. They held on for the 2–1 victory, but know that they now have to battle it out more competitively when they meet Sundowns in the second leg in Atteridgeville on Saturday.