Sundowns make it 8 in a row to stay top

2014-04-16 22:04

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Elias Pelembe scored his first league goal of the season as he steered Mamelodi Sundowns to their eighth successive Premiership victory, edging Mpumalanga Black Aces 1-0 at Loftus Versfeld.

The hosts stayed top of the table courtesy of Pelembe's first half header, which keeps the Pretoria outfit three points clear at the top of the table, keeping second-placed Kaizer Chiefs – who picked up a 2-0 win over Polokwane City this evening – at bay for the moment.

Sundowns kept the pressure on Chiefs, who have a game in hand and could go level with Bafana Ba Style, should they win their extra fixture, as the Premiership remains poised for a thrilling finish, which could go down to the final weekend.

It was a 10th home win of the season for Pitso Mosimane and his troops, who are on course to match Chiefs record of nine consecutive league victories earlier this season, while also staying in the hunt to match their all-time record of 11 straight wins in a season.

Sundowns dominated from the outset, as Surprise Moriri and Thabo Nthethe had early chances, before Pelembe broke the deadlock after just eight minutes.

Sundowns picked up a loose ball after a failed clearance, allowing Tebogo Langerman to whip in a dangerous cross, which Pelembe met with a powerful diving header to send the home side on their way.

The visitors' evening went from bad to worse as goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane was replaced in the 14th minute due to injury, forcing Aces coach Clive Barker into an early substitution with the game still in its infancy.

New keeper, Bafana Nhlapo, was called into action 10 minutes later, palming away a thunderous effort from Teko Modise from well outside the area.

Modise was looking threatening with every touch and came even closer to scoring on the half-hour mark, hitting the crossbar from a dangerous set-piece and going agonisingly close in the process.

Sandile Zuke had a rare attempt at goal for Aces, his long-range effort soaring over the goal and never troubling Downs' shot-stopper Kennedy Mweene, who was enjoying a peaceful evening between the posts.

Aces eventually found their attackers in the right areas and drew a brilliant save out of Mweene three minutes before the break, as the Zambian international produced a stunning dive to his right to deny Clifford Ngobeni from dead in front.

Leading at the break, the Brazilians were looking eager to get another in the second half and showed their intentions 10 minutes after the interval as substitute Rodney Ramagalela went narrowly wide, shortly after skipper Alje Schut had a header saved off the line from a set-piece just outside the area.

Aces found their feet after the hour mark and started pressing their opponents, who seemed content to defend their slender lead as the clock wound down, but still the visitors failed to make a decisive move for the equaliser.

At the other end, Nhlapo was ensuring his side stayed in the tie, pulling off a fantastic diving save in the 70th, denying Ramagalela's left-footed strike, which looked destined for the top corner, before making a second stunning stop to deny Schut minutes later.

Aces had their best chance at an equaliser 10 minutes from the end, as Zamuxolo Ngalo found himself free in the area, but headed his effort high and wide of the mark when it looked easier to score.

In the end, Sundowns hung on for a vital victory which keeps them on top with three games remaining in one of the most exciting finishes to a season in recent history.

In other results tonight, Wits beat Moroka Swallows 2-1, while Golden Arrows and Bloemfontein Celtic played to a 1-1 draw. Earlier, Free State Stars secured a 1-0 win over University of Pretoria.

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