Mamelodi Sundowns beat Maritzburg United 1-0 in their Absa Premiership encounter on Wednesday night,, courtesy of a Hlompho Kekana screamer.
Sundowns came into their first game in the league since beating Kaizer Chiefs, after the Premier Soccer League afforded the Chloorkop-based club extra time to prepare for last Friday’s Caf Champions League game against Lobi Stars in Nigeria.
Downs lost that game in Nigeria, but are unbeaten (28 games) over the span of a year in the PSL, and were looking to pick up all three points against the basement dwellers Maritzburg to keep up with the pacesetters in the title race.
Maritzburg, on the other hand, are yet to pick up a point under new boss Mushi Ertugral, and would have been desperate for any sort of result to kick-start their quest for survival.
This clash was the first time these two teams have met in the league this season, but the Team of Choice have given the Brazilians a tough time over the last few seasons.
Thabiso Kutumela was handed his debut by Ertugral, and the former Orlando Pirates man started well as he forced Kennedy Mweene into a smart save.
Both sides were struggling to break each other down in the opening 30 minutes, but Maritzburg came close through a set play when Rushin de Reuck rose highest to head towards goal, his effort missing the target.
Sundowns then resorted to long-range efforts as Gaston Sirino tried his luck from range, his effort flying just wide with 38 minutes gone.
Downs then thought they had taken the lead when Themba Zwane coasted into the box before providing a good finish, but the linesman raised his flag for offsides, ruling the goal out.
Kutumela then had another chance to grab a debut goal just before the break, but he couldn’t find the target after doing well to dribble past Mosa Lebusa.
0-0 at the break with the game firmly in the balance.
Mosimane’s men started well in the second stanza and came inches away from opening the score as Richard Ofori got fingertips to Kekana’s long-range strike, deflecting it on to the bar.
The Sundowns captain, however, would not be denied a second tine round as he smashed a pile-driver into the top corner on the hour mark.
The Brazilians then looked to control the tempo of the game through ball possession, while Maritzburg were struggling to get a foothold in the game.
Ofori and Kekana were seemingly having a battle of their own as the keeper denied the Bafana hard man from close range when Downs looked to press home their advantage.
Masadawana managed to see out the remainder of the game, winning by 1-0 to climb up to third on the table.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
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