Sundowns move four points clear at the top

Sundowns move four points clear at the top
Bongokuhle Hlongwane of Maritzburg United tackled by Rivaldo Coetzee of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on 05 May 2021 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday May 05, 2021. 17:11

Mamelodi Sundowns have put themselves firmly back on track for a fourth successive league title in South Africa after they defeated Maritzburg United 2-0 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

The result – secured by goals from Ricardo Nascimento and Gift Motupa – sees the Brazilians move four points clear of nearest chasers AmaZulu (with a game in hand) at the top of the DStv Premiership log.

The Team of Choice, meanwhile, drop to 13th place on goal difference and remain just one point clear of the relegation playoff zone.

Sundowns thought they had claimed the lead in the fifth minute when Mosa Lebusa bundled a ball home at the far post after Aubrey Modiba’s cross had passed through the six-yard area, but the offside flag was raised.

The hosts soon suffered an injury blow when Themba Zwane pulled up with a hamstring issue and was replaced by Promise Mkhuma as early as the 12th minute.

A short while later Peter Shalulile hit the woodwork twice in quick succession, with a low shot which smacked the near post followed by a header from a corner kick which was tipped onto the crossbar by United goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt.

Either side of the half-hour mark, Maritzburg’s Bongokuhle Hlongwane had two great chances which he failed to capitalise on, stabbing over from close range under pressure from goalkeeper Denis Onyango and sending a header just wide from Thabiso Kutumela’s cross.

The Brazilians were soon awarded a penalty, with Gift Motupa doing well to out-muscle Clayton Daniels and surge down the left of the 18-yard area, before a tangle of legs brought the striker down. Ricardo Nascimento tucked home from the spot in the 39th minute to see the hosts 1-0 up.

Sundowns continued to look the better team through the second half and were finally rewarded with a second goal in the 71st minute: substitute Mothobi Mvala showed a delicate touch to tee up Motupa, who fired a low shot into the bottom corner to effectively end the game as a contest.

Sundowns will be back in DStv Premiership action on Sunday 9 May with a match away to TS Galaxy, while Maritzburg’s next clash is at home to Golden Arrows on Tuesday 11 May.

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Nascimento 39’ pen, Motupa 71’)

Maritzburg United 0

Sundowns: D. Onyango, Lebusa, Coetzee, Nascimento, Morena, Jali, Mkhulise (Mvala 62’), Modiba (Lakay 75’), Zwane (Mkhuma 12’ [Kapinga 76’]), Shalulile, Motupa (Affonso 76’)

Maritzburg: Englehardt, Rae, Allie, Daniels, Morgan (Hlubi 60’), Tlolane (Hachi 72’), Stevic (Shandu 72’), Graham, Claasen, Hlongwane, Kutumela (Ntshangase 90’)

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