Sundowns keep top spot
Lebohang Mokoena (Gallo Images)
Durban - Lebohang Mokoena’s late header was enough to help Mamelodi Sundowns maintain their advantage on top of the Absa Premiership table with a narrow 1-0 victory over AmaZulu here on Wednesday.
The only goal came 11 minutes from time in a tight affair at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which saw the visitors dominate the first half and the hosts then take almost total control in the second.
Mokoena was on hand close to the end when he nodded in powerfully from a Themba Zwane cross to seal the points.
The log leaders dominated the first 45 minutes, which was played mainly in the home side’s half of the field.
As early as the sixth minute, Sundowns carved out the first opening after excellent work from Elias Pelembe and Katlego Mphela down the right with the ball laid teasingly for Teko Modise, who placed his shot inches over.
The hosts had a rare chance in the 12th minute, although a free-kick in a promising position on the left was curled straight into the arms of Wayne Sandilands.
Midway through the half, Mokoena found space on the left side of the box after a fine pass by Modise, but the cut-back was slightly behind Zwane as another chance went begging.
On the half-hour mark, the same three were again involved in what was the Brazilians’ best chance.
Modise was again involved, spreading the ball to the right, where Mokoena cut it back to Zwane, whose scuffed attempt from six yards out was straight into the arms of Tapuwa Kapin.
AmaZulu had one final attempt towards the end of the half, although Goodman Dlamini’s free-kick from the right was punched away by Sandilands.
It was goalless at the break and after the restart Roger Palmgren’s men looked a reinvigorated side.
Ayanda Dlamini had three good chances within 15 minutes -- the first lifted narrowly over from the left side of the box after a short corner.
He then managed to beat Sandilands after he was picked out with a long pass, but his shot rolled agonisingly past the far post, while the Usuthu frontman again beat the Sundowns custodian when he outjumped two defenders to head over from inside the area.
At the other end, Sundowns were picking up scraps and had a half-hearted penalty appeal turned down, before Tsweu Mokoro made a vital interception with 14 minutes remaining as Mokoena sought out substitute Nyasha Mushekwi.
But the deadlock was finally broken when Zwane floated in a teasing cross from the right that was headed in by Mokoena -- Kapini getting a hand to the ball as he dived to his left, although it was not strong enough to turn the ball wide.
AmaZulu tried to hit back immediately but substitute Tangeni Shipahu arrived slightly late at the back post to divert a cross from the right wide.
That proved the final chance with the men from Pretoria holding on.