Sundowns rally to remain unbeaten after tough examination by dogged Stellenbosch

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Junior Leandro Mendieta attempts to keep possession away from Andile Jali. (Photo by Shaun Roy/BackPagePix/Gallo Images)
Junior Leandro Mendieta attempts to keep possession away from Andile Jali. (Photo by Shaun Roy/BackPagePix/Gallo Images)

League leaders Mamelodi Sundowns maintained their unbeaten start to the season as they rallied from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Stellenbosch FC at Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday night.

The hosts claimed the lead from the penalty spot in the closing stages of the first half but Sundowns clawed their way back into contention on the hour mark through Lyle Lakay.

Masandawana continued to pile forward in the final stages of the encounter but failed to make their chances count as Stellies held on for a share of the spoils.

The first chance of note fell to Sundowns in the third minute as Haashim Domingo fired narrowly wide from the right side of the six-yard box after being teed up by Lakay's inviting cross.

After a lengthy lull in play with chances few and far between, the match sprang to life in the 27th minute as Grant Kekana saw his goalbound shot saved in the centre of goal by Stellies keeper Sage Stephens.

Themba Zwane failed to hit the mark for Sundowns one minute later before Stellenbosch's Junior Mendieta fired over the bar from outside the area.

Stellenbosch again went close a couple of minutes later but Ashley Du Preez was unable to capitalise, firing over from outside the box.

The deadlock was finally broken with three minutes of regulation time remaining in the first half, the referee pointing to the spot after Du Preez was brought down in the area by Khuliso Mudau.

Mendieta stepped up to take it and made no mistake, firing the ball into the bottom-left corner to put Stellies in the driver's seat heading into the interval.

Sundowns redoubled their efforts after the break and went close through efforts from Mosa Lebusa and Thabiso Kutumela.

They eventually got the breakthrough they were looking for in the 59th minute, Lakay finding the bottom corner with a fantastic strike from range.

However, despite having the momentum on their side, Sundowns were unable to force a winner despite creating a catalogue of chances.

Lakay missed the target six minutes later while Themba Zwane fired wide on 76 minutes, before Thapelo Morena's long-range strike was denied by Stephens.

Stephens kept out another Lakay effort in the 82nd minute, while Morena and substitute Kermit Erasmus failed to find the mark with later attempts on goal as Stellenbosch held on to claim a hard-fought draw.

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