Mamelodi Sundowns recorded a record-extending 10th successive win from the start of the DStv Premiership season when they defeated AmaZulu 1-0 at the King Zwelithini Stadium last night.
Masandawana secured the victory – thanks to a first-half penalty from Lucas Ribeiro, with the result taking them five points clear at the top of the standings.
Usuthu, meanwhile, suffered a fourth defeat of the league season and dropped to 12th place – just five points above the relegation playoff zone.
Sundowns took charge of the match early on, dominating possession and stringing together their customary passing movements.
In the 20th minute, Sundowns were awarded a penalty when Themba Zwane was dragged to the ground by Mbongeni Gumede. Lucas Ribeiro expertly converted from the spot for 1-0 just before the midway point of the first half.
Tempers flared both on and off the field in the wake of a relatively innocuous challenge from Ethan Brooks on Sphelele Mkhulise in midfield, before the Brazillians nearly claimed a second goal just past the half hour mark.
Teboho Mokoena’s defence-splitting pass was miscontrolled by Allende, but this allowed Peter Shalulile time and space to pick his spot, though his effort was turned away by the strong hands of AmaZulu debutant goalkeeper, Olwethu Mzimela.
Usuthu enjoyed three chances late in the first half, all of which fell the way of Tshepang Moremi.
By this stage of the match Sundowns had begun to make mistakes in defence, a trend which continued early in the second half as Moremi and Sede Junior Dion had a couple of half chances which they weren’t quite able to capitalise on.
On 65 minutes, AmaZulu had the ball in the back of the net via Hendrick Ekstein, but the effort was ruled out for an offside which television replays suggested was an incredibly tight call.
The Brazilians had problems to deal with at the defensive end, but they remained potent at the other and forced several saves from Mzimela via the boots of Shalulile, Zwane and Mokoena.
Yet the match ultimately ended 1-0 in favour of the team in yellow, with Usuthu unable to find a way to draw level.
The teams will be back in DStv Premiership action next Wednesday, with AmaZulu hosting Sekhukhune United and Sundowns welcoming Cape Town Spurs. Sundowns will play Pyramids FC of Egypt in the CAF Champions League this weekend. Article by Ntsako Mkhari
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena