Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Patrick Phungwayo of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Free State Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns at Goble Park Stadium, Bethlehem on 11 May 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Saturday May 11, 2019. 17:38
Mamelodi Sundowns were able to defend their title as they were crowned the 2018/19 Absa Premiership champions on Saturday after defeating Free State Stars 1-0 at Goble Park.
The result sees them finish two points above Orlando Pirates while the loss for Stars sees them relegated from the South African top flight (on goal difference after finishing on the same points as Maritzburg United)
Sundowns started positively and almost took the lead in the tenth minute when Gaston Sirino broke down the left flank and squared for Lebohang Maboe, but headed inches wide from ten-yards out.
Five minutes later Hlompho Kekana found some space in midfield and drove towards goal before seeing his 18-yard stinger superbly saved by the Polokwane keeper.
The home side created their first real scoring chance in the 25th minute when Harris Tchilimbou met a good cross into the box, but his header shaved the wrong side of the post.
The Brazilians suffered a bit of a set-back in the 39th minute when Sirino had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Phakamani Mahlambi.
Mahlambi, though, made his impact felt four minutes later when he gave Sundowns the lead after some great build-up play concluded with him firing the ball home from just inside the box to make it 1-0 at the break.
Stars controlled the flow of play at the start of the second half and looked to have taken the lead in the 59th minute courtesy of Sibusiso Hlubi, but the goal was disallowed for a handball.
Ten minutes later Sundowns nearly doubled their lead when Themba Zwane played Kekana into space on the edge of the box, but his shot sailed just over the target.
Stars three played forward in the last fifteen minutes in hope of securing an equaliser, but were unable to do so.
Free State Stars (0) 0
Sundowns (1) 1 (Mahlambi 43’)
Stars: 23. Sangare, 2. Mobbie, 28. Mahamutsa, 20. Mbhele, 21. Phungwayo, 4. Makhaula, 5. Masehe, 15. Mokhuoane (Rodgers 46’), 7. Hlubi, 27. Tchilimbou, 19. Jappie (Khabane 61’).
Sundowns: 14. Onyango, 27. Morena, 2. Lebusa, 3. Nascimento, 4, Langermna, 8. Kekana, 40. Coetzee, 11. Vilakazi (Arendse 89’), 18. Zwane (Lakay 78’), 26. Sirino (Mahlambi 43’), 33. Maboe.