Nelspruit - The resurgence of Mamelodi Sundowns’ Absa Premiership title bid continued on Wednesday evening when they claimed a comfortable 2-0 win away to Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Mbombela Stadium near Nelspruit.
The victory, secured courtesy of goals from Matthew Pattison and Katlego Mphela, pushed the Brazilians to within a point of third-placed Kaizer Chiefs and added another nail to the coffin of AmaZayoni, who are surely destined to play second-tier football next season.
Aces actually put up a strong performance considering they had to play nearly two thirds of the game with a man’s disadvantage. Sundowns also ended the game with just ten men, though it was not a dirty or mean-spirited affair by any means.
The opening 30 minutes provided entertaining end-to-end action, as both Aces and Sundowns looked intent on playing an attacking game.
The visitors threatened through the likes of Katlego Mphela, Elias Pelembe and Richard Henyekane, while AmaZayoni’s on-loan stars Joseph Makhanya and David Mathebula carved out a couple of good opportunities for their strikers that were not capitalised on.
Sundowns effectively wrapped up the game in a five-minute spell after the half hour mark that saw them score two goals either side of a harsh sending off for Aces defender Marc Eberle.
First, in the 32nd minute, the Brazilians opened the scoring through Matthew Pattison, who latched onto a square pass from Elias Pelembe and provided a superb finish into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later, AmaZayoni were reduced to ten men when centre-back Eberle was shown a straight red card by referee Charl Theron for a foul on Richard Henyekane just outside the penalty area.
Television replays suggested that the decision was incredibly harsh: Eberle’s foul was neither malicious nor particularly late, and Aces had James Madidilani coming across to cover, thus the German defender was not clearly denying the Sundowns striker a goal scoring opportunity.
Aces would have felt hugely aggrieved at the decision, but their anger was compounded when Mphela scored a superb goal direct from the free kick that was awarded for Eberle’s foul, making it 2-0 to Sundowns in the 37th minute.
The hosts reshuffled somewhat at the start of the second half, sending on Lindokuhle Mbhatha in place of Madidilani to give them more balance in their ten-man line-up.
And, although they were at a numerical disadvantage, Aces actually looked the likelier scorers in the first 20 minutes or so of the second stanza. Both Myron Shongwe and Mpho Maleka fluffed free headers in the penalty area, while Makhanya was unlucky to see a superb long range shot rebound off the underside of the crossbar with Wayne Sandilands well beaten.
Sundowns themselves hit the woodwork in the 67th minute, with Mphela’s shot skimming the top of the bar after substitute Nyasha Mushekwi had made a mess of a good scoring chance of his own before teeing up a chance for ‘Killer’.
The Brazilians also ended the game with ten men after substitute Surprise Moriri picked up two unnecessary bookings in the mere 26 minutes he was on the pitch. However, it wasn’t enough to spark any kind of comeback from the hosts.
MP Black Aces 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 2 (Pattison 32’, Mphela 37’)
Aces: (4-4-2) Onyango; Madidilani (Mbatha 46’), Eberle, Rooi, Gilbert (Henyekane 60’); Makhanya, Khanyile, Mathebula, Masina (Bishop 40’); Maleka, Shongwe
Sundowns: (4-2-3-1) Sandilands; Mungomeni, Xulu, Ferreira, Mwanjali; Mutizwa, Pattison (Ngubane 82’); Pelembe, Zothwane (Moriri 64’), Henyekane (Mushekwi 64’); Mphela
Referee: Charl Theron
Cautions: Masina, Maleka; Pattison, Moriri
Dismissals: Eberle 34’; Moriri 90’