Mamelodi Sundowns secured victory over Maritzburg United in the DStv Premiership on Wednesday evening to maintain their lead at the top of the table.
Bafana Ba Style reasserted their supremacy in their return to domestic league competition with a dominant performance at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Sundowns entered the clash in good form, having won their last five consecutive league games. They sit atop the DStv Premiership standings and have yet to concede a goal in the top-flight so far this season.
The defending Champions were strong and slick, a formidable collective in which every player knew their part and performed it well playing against a compact United that tried to close down the hosts with every touch they made on the ball.
The game began at a frenetic pace with both sides playing a high tempo game looking to get the early opener. Travis Graham of Maritzburg collided with Grant Kekana as both players went mid-air in a momentum to attack the ball, as they received medical attention, both teams had the chance to regroup and slow down the pace. United proved to be no pushovers in the contest and made The Brazilians work hard on finding spaces to play the ball.
Heading into the final moments of the first half Downs came firing out of the blocks, Peter Shalulile tested goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt with a right-footed shot, but the close-range effort went over the goalposts.
Both teams headed into the halftime break goalless and came out of the tunnel looking to battle it out in the final 45 minutes of play. Downs found solutions to the compact game in the second half as their identity and playing style was more visible with passes and moving forward in attack.
As the game entered the closing stages, Masandawana charged an excellent counter attack, passing the ball from Themba Zwane in combination with Haashim Domingo who found Pavol Safranko in perfect position to put Downs on the front foot. The Slovakian striker was present with a superb shot at goal but saved by Engelhardt who gave the hosts a second chance to go for goal, however unfortunate in their execution.
The Brazilians finally found a scoring opportunity through Shalulile who broke the deadlock with a first-time time touch assisted by Neo Maema and the champions were set to continue with their winning momentum. Shalulile scored his sixth goal in eight league appearances.
Bafana Ba Style’s victory lap nearly ended when United’s winger Lifa Hlongwane fired an intentional shot at Reyaad Pieterse and threatened Downs’ clean sheet as he missed by a few inches. Mothobi Mvala also had his moment to test the keeper in the last minutes of game play before the referee blew his whistle to finish the encounter.
Masandawana introduced striker Gift Motupa alongside attacking midfielder Lesedi Kapinga in the final minutes as the team managed the game to secure the result. The home win sees Bafana Ba Style go three points clear of second placed Stellenbosch FC as they continued with their flawless start to the season.
This is how we lined up: R. Pieterse, M. Lebusa © , D. Lunga, K. Mudau, G. Kekana, A. Jali, H. Domingo (93′ Kapinga), N. Maema (90′ Lakay), T. Zwane, P. Safranko (78′ Mvala), P. Shalulile (90′ Motupa).
Subs: K. Mweene, T. Morena, L. Lakay, L. Kapinga, S. Mkhulise, G. Motupa, R. Nascimento, S. Vilakazi, M. Mvala.