May 7 2017 – MAMELODI Sundowns made sure they stayed in touch with log leaders Bidvest Wits when they beat Orlando Pirates 2-0 in an Absa Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium on (today) Sunday afternoon with Sundowns leading 1-0 at half-time.
With three games to go, it’s still a three-horse race for the title. As it stands, Wits top the standings with 57 points, followed by Sundowns on 54 and Cape Town City with 52 points.
Sundowns were in the ascendancy right from start and, when Percy Tau was presented with an early opportunity, he unfortunately steered his effort wide. The defending PSL champions played some really nice football at times, with Khama Billiat and Themba Zwane at the forefront of their attacking play. Something had to give and the Pretoria side duly took a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute when Yannick Zakri’s good work on the flanks created the opening for Billiat to score.
Pirates, though, played their part in the encounter and they were always trying to get going, even though they struggled to get some sort of rhythm to their game. Thabo Rakhale had a chance which was saved by Sundowns’ Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango. Oupa Manyisa had an inviting opportunity to equalise in the 34th minute, but was denied by a great block tackle from Thabo Nthethe.
Just before half-time, Sundowns had two more chances to increase their advantage, but Pirates goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane was equal to the task on both occasions, saving to deny Tau and Billiat.
But there was to be no saving or stopping three minutes into the second half when Zakri stormed into the Pirates penalty area, finished sweetly, and Sundowns were 2-0 up and cruising.
In the 62nd minute, just to rub in the depth and quality of this Sundowns side, they took off promising young striker Tau and replaced him with veteran Teko Modise. It added greater thrust and creativity to their midfield as they continued to hog possession and territory.
Pirates had no choice but to come out and try to get something out of the game. Mpho Makola tried his luck with one of his trademark long range strikes, but it was comfortably dealt with by Onyango. In the 76th minute, the Buccaneers replaced Thamsanqa Gabuza with Tendai Ndoro, in the hope that the Zimbabwean marksman could find a way past the Sundowns defence.
But it wasn’t to be, and Sundowns grabbed the valuable three points which keeps alive their hopes of retaining the PSL title. – ANA