Relebogile Mokhuoane of Free State Stars challenges Leandro Sirino of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Free State Stars on 21 February 2018 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Wednesday Feb 21, 2018. 21:50
Free State Stars showed their quality as they drew 1-1 against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Absa Premiership at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday night.
A second half goal from Siphelele Mthembu ensured Ea Lla Koto grabbed a point as they sit at number four on the log table with 33 points.
For the log leaders, Sundowns scored early through Percy Tau, but misfired as they settled for a point at home.
The hosts had a bright start and Tau netted within the first five minutes after great play by Gaston Sirino, who teed up the left-footed forward to beat Ali Sangare on his right corner.
Stars would rectify their errors at the back in the 12th minute and pushed numbers in search of an equaliser, yet Paulus Masehe’s effort lacked power and was collected by Denis Onyango.
The hosts continued to enjoy themselves on the ball and a good combination between Khama Billiat and Jeremy Brockie saw the New Zealand international’s shot shaving off the right corner in the 28th minute.
With five minutes to the interval, Ea Lla Koto nearly caught Sundowns’ defence napping when Harris Tchilimbou’s free header was saved by Onyango from close range.
On the stroke of half time, Brockie broke free on the left flank into the box, yet he failed to beat Sangare as his effort sailed over the crossbar.
Luc Eymael’s side came back and immediately attacked their hosts, but Siphelele Mthembu missed the target form a promising position in the box to hit the side of the net.
However, Mthembu would finally make it 1-1 in the 53rd minute when he finished from a scramble on the box to beat Onyango from close range.
Stars gained an upper hand after their goal, but the hosts nearly scored their second goal after an hour when Tiyani Mabunda was denied by Sangare from a powerful shot on the edge of the box.
Despite their numerous efforts to find a winning goal, defender Ricardo Nascimento also came close to scoring from a free header, again it went inches wide with two minutes to go.
In the closing stages, Nhlanhla Vilakazi looked like he was brought down by Onyango in the box, but referee Luthando Ndzandzeka waved play on despite penalty protests from Stars’ bench.
The stalemate leaves Pitso Mosimane's side sitting at the top with 39 points from 21 matches.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Tau 5’)
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Mthembu 53’)
Mamelodi Sundowns: Onyango, Morena, Soumahoro (Madisha 25’), Nascimento, Langerman, Manyisa, Mabunda, Sirino (Ngoma 63’), Billiat, Brockie (T. Zwane 79’), Tau
Free State Stars: Sangare, Masehe, Mobbie, Mahamutsa, Phungwayo, Vilakazi, Tchilimbou (Teyise 85’), Keita, Jantjie, Mthembu (Anas 67’), Relebogile (Cosse 59’)