Sundowns boost title hopes
Durban - Mamelodi Sundowns put themselves on the title track with a convincing and dominating performance as they defeated Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in an Absa Premiership clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
Sundowns could have been 3-0 up by the time Katlego Mphela did put them ahead in the 35th minute, as he made the most of a horrible back pass from Chiefs’ stand in left-back Tlou Molekwane.
Josta Dladla got Chiefs level when he converted a penalty just before half time. Sundowns, though, deserved the points and found the winning goal through Siyanda Xulu 12 minutes from time as he hit Pelembe’s rebounded free kick home from close range.
The Brazilians are now three points behind SuperSport and on this performance now look like the closest rivals to the league leaders.
Inside the opening two minutes Chiefs were on the back foot, with Itumeleng Khune coming to the rescue twice early on. First he made an acrobatic save off a shot at goal by Mungomeni from the right side of the Chiefs penalty area.
From the corner Khune made another impressive save. As Cale’s in swinging cross from the left came in Mabhudi Khenyeza flicked the ball with his head, which had Khune stretching to put the ball out for a Sundowns corner.
Chiefs were having difficulty controlling Mphela in the opening quarter of an hour. Mphela, the league’s leading scorer, should have given Sundowns the lead as he found himself in a one-on-one situation with Khune in the seventh minute. The Chiefs keeper managed to slide in and blocked Mphela’s shot at goal with his outstretched legs.
Mphela was being a total nuisance to the Chiefs backline and he again managed to breach the Amakhosi rearguard in the 20th minute; this time he was able to go undetected into the Chiefs six yard box where he got in front of Khune and Rooi to head Pelembe’s free kick with a backward flick just wide of goal.
The home team’s defence was just not up to the task of dealing with Sundowns, especially from the set pieces. Again in the 25th minute Sundowns were guilty of missing a glorious scoring chance: this time a shot by Mungomeni from around seven yards from goal grazed the outside of the Chiefs right hand post. The chance came about after a mix up between Rooi and Molekwane, who failed to clear a Sundowns header which set up the chance for Mungomeni.
Early on it was clear that playing the inexperienced Molekwane in the left-back slot would put Chiefs at a serious disadvantage. He had a torrid time in dealing with both Pelembe and Mphela it was who he gifted Sundowns’ lead ten minutes before half time.
Molekwane’s inexperience came to the fore as he intended passing the ball back to Khune but he only managed to put it into the path of Mphela, who raced towards goal and moved past Khune to hit the ball home to hand Sundowns a well deserved lead.
Four minutes before half time Chiefs were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances when Mungomeni was penalised for blocking Letsholonyane’s shot with his hand. Josta Dladla stepped up for Chiefs and converted the spot kick despite Sundowns keeper Brian Baloyi diving in the right direction.
The story early on in the second half was similar to that of the first with Sundowns creating but not converting their goal scoring opportunities. Khenyeza was the guilty party in the 58th minute, shooting high and wide from inside the Chiefs 18 yard area after being set up by Gaxa.
With 20 minutes to go Cale managed to work his way towards goal for Sundowns. As he entered the Chiefs danger zone Jimmy Tau, who was chasing him, managed to catch up with the lanky winger and slid in to dispossess him of the ball.
All afternoon long Chiefs had problems defending off Sundowns set pieces, as was the case when the Brazilians scored their second goal of the afternoon in the 78th minute. Pelembe’s free kick from the left edge of the Chiefs 18 yard area was flicked by Khenyeza towards goal and Khune managed to block the ball.
Sundowns defender Xulu beat the Chiefs defence to the rebound and bundled it over the line to put Sundowns ahead for the second time in the match and in the process scored his second goal of the season.
The last piece of action came in second half stoppage time as Khune got down to save Surprise Moriri’s free-kick.