Mamelodi Sundowns return to the summit of the Absa Premiership table after claiming a 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Tuesday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Pitso Mosimane’s men came into this encounter off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Cape Town City at Loftus Versfeld Stadium last Tuesday.
Beforehand, Eric Tinkler’s side, who had claimed two victories in their last five matches, went down 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium last Saturday.
In the first meeting between the two sides this campaign, Masandawana had come out victorious after snatching a narrow 1-0 win over the Team of Choice in Tshwane in mid-January this year.
The Brazilians got off to a perfect start and broke the deadlock after five minutes when Lebohang Maboe played a cheeky back heel into the path of Emiliano Tade, who made no mistake to slot the ball home.
Maritzburg had a chance to level matters six minutes later, but Thabiso Kutumela’s shot across the face of goal was pushed out wide for a corner by Denis Onyango.
Sundowns then doubled their lead in the 21st minute when Maboe found the net with a clinical finish in the box after he was picked out by Gaston Sirino with an excellently placed ball into the area.
Fortune Makaringe nearly pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 26th minute, but the attacker failed to find the back of the net after two attempts at goal.
Yannick Zakri should have reduced the deficit after 35 minutes when he made his way through on goal after an error from Thapelo Morena, but the striker’s shot was kept out by Onyango.
Themba Zwane nearly extended Sundowns lead even further in the 40th minute after Maboe played a beautiful chip over the Maritzburg defence in the box, but he was unable to make any contact with the ball as it went out for a goal kick.
Sundowns managed to hold on to their two-goal lead over Maritzburg as the game went into the half-time break.
The visitors picked up where they had left off in the first half and continued to dominate proceedings early in the second half.
Sirino almost got his name on the scoresheet after 50 minutes when he made his way to the edge of the box before unleashing a strike at goal, but Richard Ofori did enough to deal with his shot.
The Team of Choice had a chance of their own in the 59th minute when Kutumela clipped the ball over the Sundowns defence for Makaringe, but Onyango made a low save to deny the Maritzburg attacker.
Sundowns were then reduced to 10 men a minute later when Sirino was given his marching orders with a second yellow card for dissent.
Judas Moseamedi should have pulled a goal back in the 70th minute when he fired a volley from a Shandu cross, but he was unable to direct his effort on target as it sailed wide of the right post.
At the other end, Zwane had a good opportunity to make it 3-0 in favour of Sundowns, but blazed his shot wide of the target with only the keeper to beat.
The home side managed to reduce the deficit in the 82nd minute through Makaringe after Onyango failed to claim the ball from a Sanoka cross.
Maritzburg pushed forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages of the game, but Sundowns managed to hold on to their lead until the final whistle to claim all three points.
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