Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns opened a gap at the top of the Premiership
standings with a 2-0 win over Free State Stars heading into a lengthy
Downs bagged a goal in either half in Puthaditjhaba on Wednesday
night to hand Stars their first league defeat at home this season.
The visitors snatched the lead in the eighth minute through
Surprise Moriri, who fired in a close-range strike after Tsholofelo
Modise's free kick broke to him inside the 18-yard area.
Modise threatened again soon after but Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene tipped his thunderous shot around the post.
The home side were made to sit back early but came close twice
within a couple of minutes when first Ouro Sadate shot wide before Dove
Wome blasted over the bar.
Both sides continued to create chances, and with 10 minutes left in the first half, Clayton Daniels and Wome fired wide.
Moriri missed his best chance for a brace minutes later when he
connected with a Modise free kick, but Mweene held on to his close-range
Sundowns showed their intent immediately after the break, surging
forward in an effort to stretch the gap, but Stars did well to threaten
on the counter attack in an electric second half.
Five players -- Nyasha Mushekwi, Modise and Punch Manasamela for
Downs, and Edward Mnqele and Wome for Stars -- wasted chances within 10
minutes after the restart, all firing wide or over the bar.
Mnqele was on target in the 54th minute when Wayne Sandilands was
forced to parry away his effort, but Downs extended their advantage on
the hour mark when Lebohang Mokoena connected with a cross from Modise
and hit the back of the net.
Stars continued to fight and Mnqele had another opportunity with 13 minutes left but he blasted over the bar.
The hosts played with 10 men in the dying stages of the match,
after Sadate was sent off with eight minutes left, and Zakari Morou
fluffed their last chance when he fired a header over in injury time.
Sundowns take a three-point lead at the top of the standings ahead of a two-month break, with Stars dropping one place to sixth.