Mamelodi Sundowns joined Orlando Pirates at the top of the Absa Premiership table after claiming a 2-1 victory over Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Tuesday evening, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Pitso Mosimane’s side came into this encounter on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Wydad Casablanca in the semi-final of the Caf Champions League in Morocco last Friday.
Meanwhile, Dylan Kerr’s men fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Maritzburg United in their last Absa Premiership encounter.
The last time these two sides met, Sundowns cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Leopards at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Leopards got off to a good start and saw more possession of the ball in the opening exchanges of the match.
The home side had the first real chance at goal when Thabiso Mokoena cut the ball back to Tshwarelo Bereng on the edge of the area, before hitting a first-time shot that forced Denis Onyango into making a decent save to deny the Leopards attacker.
Sundowns then broke the deadlock in the 27th minute after a terrible mistake at the back by Jean Munganga, who tried to head the ball back to his keeper, but Gaston Sirino anticipated well and beat Ndlovu to the ball to put his side ahead.
The home side should have levelled matters five minutes from the break after Bereng delivered a cross from the left and into the path of Robert Ng’ambi, but Onyango made a diving save to steer his powerful header away from goal.
However, Sundowns held on to their one-goal lead over Leopards as the game went into the half to break.
The visitors came out the better side in the second half, with Rivaldo Coetzee and Themba Zwane linking up well before delivering a deep pass to Morena, who flashed his delivery across the face of goal and out for a throw-in.
Sundowns nearly doubled their lead in the 57th minute after Morena played a cross into the path of Sibusiso Vilakazi, who brought the ball down before unleashing a shot at goal, but the attacker was unable to squeeze the ball past Ndlovu.
The visitors were rewarded in the 68th minute when Morena delivered another ball into the area which deflected to Langerman, who side-footed the ball home to make it 2-0.
Leopards nearly pulled a goal back moments later when Hlongwane played a lovely ball over the top to Themba Ndlovu, but Mosa Lebusa made an important challenge to deny him.
Tshepe should have reduced the deficit for Leopards after he tried his luck in the box, but Lebusa made another important save to clear the ball off the line.
Sundowns pressed forward in the closing stages of the game as they looked to put the game to bed when Emiliano Tade’s well-placed ball nearly found Morena on the run in the box, but his cross was cut short by the Leopards keeper.
The home side did eventually manage to pull a goal back late in stoppage time when Khutlang capitalised on Onyango’s error after he let the ball slip from an earlier chance.
However, the Brazilians held on to their 2-1 lead over Leopards until the final whistle to claim all three points away from home.
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