A dramatic goal, deep into injury time, by super substitute Collins Mbesuma earned Mamelodi Sundowns a 2-2 draw in their African Confederations Cup third round, first leg tie against the DRC outfit AS Vita Club at the LC De Villiers Stadium on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, the big-spending Brazilians never gave up and hit back in the second half.
But even at 2-2, Downs have a mountain to climb in the second leg to be played in Kinshasa in two weeks' time after conceding two goals at home. The DRC capital is one of the more unfriendly places for an away side to play in.
Ted Dumitru, the veteran Romanian coach, admitted before the match that his players lacked confidence and it showed.
Downs were rocked when their experienced former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Brian Baloyi conceded a ninth minute penalty when he brought down Llunga Diba inside his penalty area. Vita captain Bongela Lufo stepped up and made it 1-0 with a well-taken penalty.
Then Baloyi was beaten in the 20th minute when Diba latched onto a defence-splitting through ball and chipped the ball over the Downs keeper's head and into the net making it 2-0.
Downs had a couple of near misses in the opening half. The first was a free kick from Bongane Twala which was comfortably saved by keeper Nelson Lukong on the 28th minute.
On 45 minutes, Lukong made a desperate save from a close range shot by Dario Monteiro. In injury time, Benedict Vilakazi headed wide when it looked easier to score from close range.
The poor refereeing continued when Twala looked to have been fouled inside the AS Vita penalty area in the 51st minute but play was waved on by referee Oden Mbaga.
Substitute Kurt Leintjies brought some hope to Downs when he reduced the deficit in the 65th minute with a blistering 20m drive that gave Lukong no chance.
Downs' fighting spirit was rewarded when Mbesuma's bicycle kick flew into the net three minutes into stoppage time. - Sapa