Sundowns dent Royal’s runners-up hopes

Sundowns dent Royal’s runners-up hopes
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Royal AM and Mamelodi Sundowns at Chatsworth Stadium on the 23 May 2022 © Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Monday May 23, 2022. 18:15

Mamelodi Sundowns put the cherry on top of their DStv Premiership title celebrations by wrapping up their league campaign with a 3-2 win away to Royal AM at the Chatsworth Stadium on Monday.

The result means ‘Downs completed the season with 65 points, 16 clear of whichever club ends up in second place. Thwihli Thwahla could yet claim that runners-up spot – and the CAF Champions League qualification which comes with it – but they will need to beat Orlando Pirates on Friday to usurp Cape Town City. The Buccaneers themselves could also finish in second if they win all of their three outstanding fixtures.

The teams traded half chances in the opening stages, before Sundowns claimed the lead on 13 minutes through Gaston Sirino. Sphelele Mkhulise provided a fine cross from the right flank to pick out the run of the attacker to the far post, who then provided a classy finish on the volley past the left hand of Royal goalkeeper Hugo Nyame.

Royal upped their game in search of an equaliser and began to get the likes of Victor Letsoalo and Tebogo Potsane on the ball with regularity. However, clear chances with which to test Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene were hard to come by, with the visitors doing well to stymie Thwihli Thwahla’s hopes of breaking through.

‘Downs retained their shape and discipline through the first 45 minutes, ensuring they enjoyed a 1-0 advantage heading into the interval.

The team in yellow and blue made it 2-0 less than three minutes into the second stanza, with Thabiso Kutumela allowing Sirino’s ball to run across his body before stroking a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.

The Brazilians racked up a third goal just past the hour mark, with Neo Maema (who had hit the post moments earlier) playing a great through ball to put Teboho Mokoena in on goal – the midfielder unselfishly drew Nyame off his line before teeing up Peter Shalulile to score into an empty net and move to 23 league strikes this season.

Royal immediately had a chance to pull a goal back when Grant Kekana conceded a penalty with a clumsy foul, but Letsoalo saw his spot kick saved by the legs of Kennedy Mweene to keep the score at 0-3.

However, Letsoalo made amends on 69 minutes when he latched onto Potsane’s pull-back from the left of the penalty area and struck a right-footed shot beyond the Zambian ‘keeper to make it 1-3.

Seven minutes later Thwihli Thwahla clawed another goal back, with a corner kick not cleared by Sundowns defenders and falling kindly for Shaune Mogaila, who swept home from close range to reduce the deficit to 2-3.

Royal pushed for a leveller in what remained of the match, but Sundowns were able to hold on and claim a 19th win of the season.

Royal will complete their league season with a match against Orlando Pirates at Chatsworth Stadium on Friday 27 May, while Sundowns will look to complete a domestic treble when they face Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final in Rustenburg on the evening of Saturday 28 May.

Royal AM (0) 2 (Letsoalo 69’, Mogaila 76’)

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 3 (Sirino 13’, Kutumela 48’, Shalulile 61’)

Royal: Nyame, Dlamini, Phalane (Masuku 77’), Manganyi, Mogaila (Mabena 77’), Mahlasela, Msomi (Ncobeni 52’), Matlaba, Letsoalo, Machupu (Thikazi 52’), Potsane (Pelembe 77’)

Sundowns: Mweene, Mudau (Mashiane 73’), Kekana, Lunga, Lakay, Mkhulise (Vilakazi 73’), Mokoena, Maema (Maraisane 73’), Sirino (Mvala 85’), Kutumela (Saavedra 73’), Shalulile

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