Sundowns snatch solid victory

2010-09-19 08:21

Like true championship material, Mamelodi Sundowns last night proved in this Tshwane derby who the superteam were after they staged a late rally to rescue their 100% Absa Premiership record from the brink of collapse.

Anyone who was following this encounter had resigned to yet another draw between the two clubs, but a lapse in ­concentration in the dying ­moments by the defending champions saw second-half ­substitutes Mabhuti Khenyeza and Papi Zothwane score in the last five minutes of the tie as the Brazillians snatched a ­second win over their cross-town rivals since the December meeting where they also ­prevailed.

It took Sundowns that late to take the game to their opponents who had dominated play from the start, but in typical domestic fashion, converting chances is still sounding foreign to strikers.

Dipsy Selolwane gave the home side a lead after 35 minutes and the home side’s attempt for an equaliser saw two goal-bound efforts being fluffed off the goal line in each half.

This was after Elias Pelembe header was headed out to safety by David Kannemeyer and likewise, Bongani Khumalo kept his cool to sweep off Franklin Cale’s ground shot that was a few centimetres off the goal line when goalkeeper Wayne Brown had long beaten the grass.

Prior to the encounter, SuperSport’s record in their last three official matches painted a gloomy picture.

The three-time champions first tumbled out of the MTN8 Cup at the first hurdle and only registered their first Premiership victory with a 2-1 over Mpumalanga Black Aces, a victory that came at the back of a 3-0 mauling by Bidvest Wits on the opening day of the campaign.

But last night, Gavin Hunt’s men were seemingly motivated by the fact that they were up against their cross-town rivals who had not conceded in over 180 minutes of their opening two league fixtures.

Known for his aggressive style and turbo-charged speed, Tefera Fikru was always the man expected to carry United’s hopes upfront.

He came close to scoring twice inside the opening 10 minutes of the game after he had powered his way past Matthew Booth and hit the side netting.

But it was the lanky markman’s volley that sent a wave of discomfort in the Sundowns crowd, a shot that brought the best out of Calvin Marlin in the Brazilian goal.

In a move that could have injected some energy into their game, referee Jacob Frolik denied the home side what was clearly a handball after Pelembe’s in-swinger from a corner made contact with Fikru’s hand when the striker came back to assist in defence.

Like Fikru, Anthony Laffor also got away with luck instead of a howler after the Liberian international had diverted a cross towards his goal area, but Brown saved his teammate from ­embarrassment.

Such silly moments only turned out to be just minor hiccups as the pair – Laffor and Fikru – grew in confidence and kept the Sundowns rearguard on its toes.

In contrast, coach Antonio Habas’ strike force, spearheaded by Katlego Mphela, struggled for network in the 4-2-3-1 formation where Surprise Moriri, Pelembe and Cale hardly offered the expected link.

The introduction later in the game of Mushekwi and Khenyeza gave a new dimension to the attack and United’s defence finally gave in as the latter sealed in a most heart-breaking fashion in injury time.

Other results: Kaizer Chiefs 1, Bloemfontein Celtic 0;
Bidvest Wits 1, Orlando Pirates 1; Free State Stars 1, Vasco da Gama 1.

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