Sundowns keep 100% record
Katlego Mphela (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns maintained their 100% record with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Santos at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.
With Ajax not playing today, Downs go top of the Absa Premiership log.
The only goal of a tight game was scored just before half time by Katlego Mphela.
There was a bright start to the game, with Sundowns enjoying the majority of possession, but Santos also showing a threat on the counter.
Katlego Mphela tested Tshepo Motsoeneng early on with a cross-cum-shot, but the Santos keeper reacted well, tipping the ball over the bar.
While Santos struggled to get hold of the ball, they had a good chance in the sixth minute when Erwin Isaacs’ cross picked out Sekou Camara, but the debutante’s control let him down and Calvin Marlin was able to intervene.
Motsoeneng was soon back in action though, having to make another diving save to keep out Pattison’s long range effort.
That was about as much joy as Sundowns were to get though as they became increasingly frustrated by Santos’ resolute defending, the Cape side happy to sit back and absorb the pressure, which they did comfortably.
There were a couple of moments in the Santos box for the visitors, such as when Esrom Nyandoro had the ball nicked off his feet right in front of goal in the 35th minute, but despite dominating possession increasingly, clear-cut chances did come arrive.
Finally though, when it just about looked as if they had run out of ideas, Mphela came up with a moment of inspiration, showing determination to unleash a low drive from a central position just on the edge of the box, giving Downs the advantage two minutes before the break.
The game certainly needed a goal, which should have forced the Peoples’ Team into being more attack-minded in the second half.
But in the opening stages of the second stanza, it was still Downs who remained in control, the Cape side not throwing enough numbers forward to cause their opponents any problems.
There were a couple of chances for Santos, but both Camara and Isaacs went wide from some distance.
Surprise Moriri came close to adding the cushion of a second goal, but after some good work down the left by Mabhuti Khenyeza, Moriri was unable to pick out the target after cutting in on his left foot in the 75th minute.
Soon after Mphela found himself gifted space on the edge of the area, but he was unable to keep his shot on target.
Moriri then had a penalty appeal turned down as he went down under challenge while trying to follow up on Pattison’s parried shot.
Franklin Cale then had a great chance to score in his city of birth, but his attempted curler was too close to Motsoeneng who nevertheless made a good save.
The Cape side had to end the game with 10 men after Buitumelo Mafoko was sent off for a second caution and in the end Sundowns comfortably played out the final moments without any undue threat to their lead.
Santos (0) 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Mphela 43’)
Santos: (4-4-2) Motsoeneng; Ntloana, W Arendse, Mponda (Spelman 68’), Skippers (Otieno 36’); Paulse (Basie 57’), T Arendse, Mafoko, King; Isaacs, Camara
Sundowns: (4-4-2) Marlin; Mwanjale, Mungomeni , Booth, Mdedle; Moriri (Mutizwa 90’), Nyandoro, Pattison , Cale; Mphela (Zothwane 93’), Mushekwi (Khenyeza 63’).