‘Downs back on top after crushing Pirates

‘Downs back on top after crushing Pirates
Gift Mothupa of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Deon Hotto of Orlando Pirates during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 match between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg, on 02 May 2021 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday May 02, 2021. 17:19

Mamelodi Sundowns sent a statement of intent in the DStv Premiership title race on Sunday, crushing Orlando Pirates 3-0 away from home to emphatically return to the top of the log.

Just 24 hours after being knocked down to second spot by in-form AmaZulu, the Brazilians responded with an impressive showing at Orlando Stadium which sees them re-establish a one-point lead at the head of the table (with two games in hand over their nearest chasers). The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are now 12 points off the pace of their vanquishers and remain in fifth place.

Pirates generally sat back through the first half, satisfied to crowd their defensive third of the field in an attempt to frustrate the Brazilians, all while hoping to spring away on the counter attack through the pace of Vincent Pule and Deon Hotto.

Half time saw the teams locked at 0-0, with neither Wayne Sandilands nor his counterpart Onyango called into significant action throughout the first 45 minutes.

Just over 10 minutes after the restart Sundowns were awarded a penalty when the referee adjudged Innocent Maela to have handled from Peter Shalulile’s turn and shot. Defender Ricardo Nascimento coolly sent the spot kick into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0 in the 58th minute.

Pirates suffered a further setback midway through the second half when Pule was forced off with a hamstring injury, leading to the introduction of Tshegofatso Mabasa – a genuine centre forward to act as a focal point for their efforts at a comeback.

Yet it was Sundowns who had the more notable attacks at the game entered the final quarter, with Maboe firing wide with a snap shot on the edge of the box, while Shalulile sent an imaginative and acrobatic effort just over the top with less than 20 minutes to play.

The Namibian striker soon profited from great pressing high up the field by Motupa, who blocked an attempted pass out from the back by Thulani Hlatshwayo – the subsequent loose ball rolled perfectly for Shalulile, who drove into the area and easily beat Sandilands for 2-0 in the 76th minute.

On 80 minutes Lyle Lakay made it 3-0 with a perfectly-executed free kick, striking a ball around the defensive wall and into the back of the net via the inside of Sandilands’ right-hand upright – with the goalkeeper having no chance whatsoever.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming Wednesday, 5 May, with Sundowns at home to Maritzburg United and Orlando Pirates hosting Black Leopards.

Orlando Pirates 0

Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 3 (Nascimento 58’ pen, Shalulile 76’, Lakay 80’)

Pirates: Sandilands, Mabaso (Mhango 84’), Nyauza, Hlatshwayo, Maela, Mako (Sam 84’), Ndlovu, Motshwari, Makaringe, Hotto, Pule (Mabasa 67’)

Sundowns: D. Onyango, Morena, Nascimento (B. Onyango 82’), Lebusa, Modiba (Lakay 64’), Coetzee (Mvala 89’), Maboe, Mkhulise, Zwane (Mkhuma 89’), Shalulile, Erasmus (Motupa 46’)

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