Mamelodi Sundowns ensured that their perfect start to the league campaign continued as they remained resolute to defeat Orlando Pirates on Tuesday evening. A solitary penalty from the in-form Lucas Riberio was enough to see Masandawana leave Soweto with all three points.
The game started at a cagey pace, with both teams looking to take control of possession early on. Downs looks to enforce their high pressing game and took advantage early on, when Sipho Mbule won the ball on the touchline and launched a Downs attack, the ball made its way to Themba Zwane, who cut inside looking to pass but was fouled by the Pirates defender in the box, winning his team a penalty.
Brazilian forward Lucas Ribeiro continued his fine form in-front of goal as he stepped up to give Ka Bo Yellow the lead, as he rifled his penalty home from the spot. The goal would be Ribeiro’s 5th goal of the season and sends him to the top of the scoring charts.
The remainder of the first half saw Downs increase their control of the game, as they looked to double their lead against a stubborn Bucs defense. Chances throughout the game would come few and far between. The best chance to double the lead would come late on in the first half, after good work from Zwane saw him drive into the box and shoot, only to have his shot saved by Sipho Chaine in goals.
The two sides headed into the break with Sundowns up by one goal.
The second half started just like the first ended, with the team in Yellow looking to extend their lead. Peter Shalulile, who made his first start since returning from injury, had a chance early on, but his first time strike was denied by the goalkeeper.
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was called into action midway through the second half when he had to make the save from Nkosinathi Sibisi’s headed effort at the Sundowns goal.
The technical team rang the changes with 25 minutes remaining as Junior Mendieta, Thapelo Morena, Thapelo Maseko and Aubrey Modiba all made their way onto the pitch to secure the result.
With the game in its closing stages, Pirates launched an attack through Deon Hotto who played a low cross into the Sundowns box which required defenders Abdelmounaim Boutouil and Mothobi Mvala to make crucial interventions respectively to help clear the danger and protect Masandawana’s lead.
Masandawana moved to 21 points, creating a seven-point gap over second-place Golden Arrows (14 points). At the same time, the Buccaneers (seven points) dropped down to eleventh position, tasting defeat only for the second time this season in the league after just five outings.
Up next, Mamelodi Sundowns continue their quest for cup glory when they face Kaizer Chiefs in the 2nd leg of their MTN8 semi final on Saturday.
How we lined up: Williams, Mudau, Coetzee, Boutouil, Mvala, Allende, Mokoena, Mbule, Zwane, Shalulile, Ribeiro
Subs: D. Onyango, Lebusa, Kekana, Modiba, Zungu, Morena, Maseko, Mendieta, Nku