Downs Secure Champions League Spot28/May/2017 09:09
Mamelodi Sundowns secured second spot in the final Absa Premiership League log with a 2-2 draw against Highlands Park in a game that was pedestrian at best as the Thembisa side fought for retention of their Premiership status at the Makhulong Stadium.
The Tshwane Giants needed to win to secure second spot, but their rivals for the second spot Cape Town City slipped up against Polokwane City to ease the pressure on the African champions.
But Highlands had none of the luxury. It was win or bust, and in the end,not even a draw could save them from relegation.
The Brazilians were comfortable on the ball, using spurts of attacks to put pressure on Highlands.
But it was Highlands who dominated early, but they could not find their way through the Sundowns defensive line.
The Tshwane Giants had several forays, and on 20 minutes Tebogo Langerman crossed the ball into the box, but Yannick Zakri could not get the power he was looking for with the Highlands goalie Tapuwa Kapini making an easy save.
Once more the combination between Percy Tau and Zakri was asking questions of the Highlands defence, but it was Themba Zwane whose curling rocket found the back of the net to give Sundowns the lead.
The Highlands faithful on the stands could read the signs. Unless their side got a breakthrough they were doomed. One held up a poster pleading with Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe to make a donation of three points.
But coach Pitso Mosimane’s boys were not about to be generous. Zakri, who was being hacked when in posession, was brought down in the box. Thabo Nthete walked up and coolly put the ball past Kapini to double Sundowns lead.
Highlands continued their quest for goals, and towards the half time break were rewarded when Seun Ledwaba beat Denis Onyango to bring the score to 2-1.
In the second half, Highlands pushed for the equaliser, but Sundowns passing game neutralized their attack. The Brazilians were relaxed as they passed the ball around, and Highlands were doing the chasing.
Their attacks came from snatching and intercepting, and ever so often Onyango was called on to save.
Anele Ngconca pulled up with what seemed to be a thigh sprain, and Siyanda Zwane came on.
The Brazilians had several chances to increase their lead, and Kapini had to make a double save to deny them.
For Highlands Mothobi Mvala kept up the pressure and came close when his shot went wide with Onyango to beat.
But well into added time he headed in to get the equaliser for his side, but when the final whistle came it signaled the end of the campaign of the Lions of the North in the PSL. Downs on the other hand, had secured second place on the final log and a spot in the CAF Champions League.
Denis Onyango, Thapelo Morena, Thabo Nthete,, Motjeka Madisha, Anele Ngconca , (Siyanda Zwane) Tebogo Langerman, Lucky Mohomi, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Yannick Zakri, Themba Zwane, Percy Tau.