Saturday May 27, 2017. 17:16
Highlands Park have been relegated from the Absa Premiership after drawing 2-2 with Mamelodi Sundowns at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday.
With Baroka FC winning at Ajax Cape Town, the Lions of the North drop to the bottom of the log and move directly into the National First Division. As for the Brazilians, the result secures second place on the log and Champions League football for 2018.
The first notable shot on target arrived just after the quarter hour mark, with Highlands’ Franklin Cale firing an effort at goal direct from a free kick, but the ball travelled straight into the arms of goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
Sundowns created half-chances for the likes of Percy Tau and Yannick Zakri within the first 30 minutes, but neither player was able to test Park ‘keeper Tapuwa Kapini with their efforts.
With 10 minutes of the first half remaining, ‘Downs claimed the lead through a superb goal from midfielder Themba Zwane, who struck a curling shot into the top corner from 20 metres out.
The Brazilians soon doubled their lead through a penalty. Zakri earned the spot kick after being tripped up by Kapini and Thabo Nthethe coolly netted in the 41st minute to see his side 2-0 up.
Highlands pulled a goal back in the 44th minute when Seun Ledwaba burst through the defence and cleverly scored past Onyango from a tight angle, giving his side hope of a comeback in the second half.
There were good chances for both sides in the early minutes of the second half, with Sundowns hitting the woodwork and forcing Kapini into a fine save, while Highlands created an opening for Mothobi Mvala, who put his effort wide with only Onyango to beat.
Mvala had another great chance in the 84th minute, but his attempted lob over Onyango once again drifted wide of the mark in a very similar incident to his earlier attempt.
Mvala finally found the back of the net deep in injury time with a looping header, but though it secured a draw against the Tshwane giants, it was enough to save Highlands from direct relegation.
Highlands Park (1) 2 (Ledwaba 44’, Mvala 90+5’)
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 2 (T. Zwane 36’, Nthethe 41’ pen)
Highlands: Kapini, Oluwafemi (Rae 76’), Ngalo, Nhlapo, Katjiukua, Khuboni (Thabotha 68’), Mvala, Ledwaba, Mbatha (Monene 43’), Cale, Moriri
Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca (S. Zwane 78’), Madisha, Nthethe, Langerman (Hachi 90+2’), Mohomi, T. Zwane, Vilakazi (Mabunda 46’), Morena, Zakri, Tau