The Brazilians started their 2020/21 continental campaign on a positive footing against the tournament debutants
Mothobi Mvala was back on the scoresheet again, while Peter Shalulile added another goal as Mamelodi Sundowns upstaged Jwaneng Galaxy 2-0 at Lobatse Stadium on Tuesday.
In his second appearance for Sundowns after scoring on debut in last Saturday’s 1-1 Premier Soccer League draw away at Golden Arrows, Mvala was again on target.
While Sundowns were expected to unleash a full-strength squad on Galaxy, the coaches did not make much changes from the squad that played Arrows.
Shalulile was fielded upfront with Lebohang Maboe in the absence of his attacking partners Themba Zwane and Kermit Erasmus who were not even named on the bench.
Defender Bangaly Soumahoro was handed a rare start while Khuliso Mudau was also in the line-up for the first time this season.
It did not take long for Sundowns to break the deadlock after Lyle Lakay made a run down the left flank to meet a Shalulile pass before making a low cross which was slotted in by Mvala 10 minutes into the contest.
The hosts rarely troubled Downs who nearly doubled their advantage six minutes later when another Lakay dangerously-looking cross was headed to safety as Shalulile and Mudau lurked ready to head in.
A well-positioned Shalulile then nearly found target but his weak shot from inside the box was cleared, before the Namibian came close again in the 36th minute after being set up by Maboe but Galaxy goalkeeper Katlego Mbise was quick to arrive first to collect the ball.
Former Orlando Pirates youth captain Ricardo Lourenco started for Galaxy but lasted just 39 minutes before being replaced by Tebogo Sembowa.
Sundowns also made their substitution at that time with Aubrey Modiba coming on for Maboe in his second appearance of the season.
In what was the Botswana champions’ first meaningful attempt at goal, Resaobaka Thatanyane’s low drive was saved by Denis Onyango three minutes before the halftime break.
A few seconds into the second half, Shalulile profited from Isaac Paeye’s failure to clear the ball before firing past Mbise while being sandwiched by a recovering Paeye and his defensive partner Fortunate Thulare.
Sundowns nearly furthered their advantage three minutes later but Lakay’s freekick went just over the bar.
The hosts tried to respond moments later but Ivorian striker Junior Dion arrived a bit late to meet a cross from the left, while Lebogang Ditsele could not direct well his shot towards goal and it went high.
Soumahoro stood tall to keep at bay Galaxy attackers before he was substituted for debutant Spesihle Mkhize.
As Galaxy pressed for a comeback, Downs survived an attack after Ricardo Nascimento failed to clear a cross meant for Dion and the Brazilian had to thank Onyango who was quick to avert danger.
Downs held on to the win and now prepare for the second leg in Pretoria on January 6.