Downs double sinks Swallows
Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns got their Premiership season off to winning start when they beat Moroka Swallows 2-0 in Pretoria with a brace of goals from debutant Nyasha Mushekwi.
After a goalless first half, Sundowns coach Antonio Habbas Lopez’s move to bring on Surprise Moriri and Mushekwi proved to be just the tonic as last season’s runners up in the league were able to power their way to the three points on offer
Sundowns certainly enjoyed more of the possession during the early exchanges but they were unable to string together any meaningful raids to test Aubrey Mathibe in the Swallows goal.
All the Brazilians were able to muster was a wayward strike from striker Richard Henyekane from about 25 metres away in the 14th minute. Lebohang Mokoena was more accurate a few minutes later but his snap shot during a set-piece flew straight to Mathibe.
Apart from two attempts in quick succession by Swallows near the halfway stage of the first half, Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Calvin Marlin was a spectator for much of the first half.
First Gareth Naca swung in a swerving free-kick which Marlin was able to collect without too much of a fuss and this was followed by a first time volley by Mfundo Shumana, but the spectacular effort flew just wide of Marlin’s upright.
Last season’s leading goal scorer, Katlego Mphela, had a perfect opportunity to open his account for the 2010/11 season, but unfortunately for Sundowns the normally deadly marksman steered a routine header off target after being expertly located by a Vuyo Mere cross just after the half-hour mark.
The nimble footed Lebohang Mokoena, operating on the right flank for Sundowns, threaded a teasing cross into the Birds penalty area in the 37th minute but Mphela was unable to make contact with his outstretched boot from close range.
Just before the interval, Mokoena should have opened the score for his side when he had clear sight of Mathibe’s goal. Instead, he decided to play a pass to Franklin Cale who was not on the same wavelength and thus the opportunity was wasted.
Shortly after the break, Sundowns midfield work-horse, Matthew Pattison drilled a trademark thumping drive from distance which Mathibe was able to divert to safety.
Sundowns had a legitimate claim for a penalty in the 51st minute when defender Ashraf Hendricks brought down Moriri, but referee Harry Lekhilane turned away vehement appeals from a few Brazilian players.
Sundowns continued to direct threatening raids at the Swallows goals but Mathibe continued to thwart their endeavours. His interventions in the 55th minute to deny the efforts of Innocent Mdledle and Moriri were out of the top draw.
However, Mushekwi who came on for the ineffective Franklin Cale in the second half, had the beating of Mathibe with his clinical strikes.
The Zimbabwean Rose majestically to head Pattison’s corner in the 74th minute and then he followed that up with a thunderous strike from a tight angle in the 86th minute after yet another assist from Pattison.