By Sports Focus
A 3-0 win for Mamelodi Sundowns over Bidvest Wits at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday night saw the Brazilians signalling that they are still in the title race.
All three goals came in the first half, two from Katlego Mphela and one from Papi Zothwane.
Sundowns were well and truly on top for the first half, with Wits barely getting a look in at their opponents’ goal.
It took the Brazilians just 10 minutes to take the lead, when Mphela emphatically buried a header, having been left unattended at a corner kick.
Solid at the back, with Mathew Booth in uncompromising form, and dominant in midfield through Esrom Nyandoro and Lionel Mutizwa, Downs continued to dictate matters.
And when Richard Henyekane, full of running on the night, went gliding through the Clever Boys’ defence, he was pulled down rugby-style by Sipho Mngomezulu.
The penalty was easily converted by Mphela, with Wits’ woes compounded by the sending off of Thando Mngomeni for dissent – 2-0 to the host after 30 minutes.
Mphela was at the forefront of the third goal as he got on the end of a near-post cross, sending an angled shot into the far upright, which was slotted home on the rebound by Papi Zothwane.
The home side continued to enjoy the upper-hand after the break, although perhaps without the same intensity of the first stanza as they were happy just to stroke the ball around
Wits had the chance to pull a goal back in the 60th minute when Mark Haskins met a cross with a clean strike, but Wayne Sandilands didn’t have too many problems with the save.
There was however a lack of action in the second half for the most part as the hosts showed no urgency in getting a further goal, while Wits soldiered on bravely but with little reward.
There was though a 78th minute chance for Teko Modise, but he steered the ball over the bar, unable to add the finishing touch to what had been a lovely flowing move.
In the end the Tshwane team comfortably played out the final minutes as 10-man Wits failed to find the spark needed to create any kind of fight-back.
The result leaves Downs in fifth spot with 41 points, five points off log-leaders Orlando Pirates.
Earlier on Saturday, AmaZulu and Vasco da Gama played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in their Absa Premiership match at the Ulundi Stadium.
Goodman Dlamini (a brace) and new hot-shot Lehlohonolo Majoro netted for the hosts, while Vasco’s goals came via Keenin Lesch, Zeka Karkee and Jonathan Armogam.
Goodman Dlamini started the goal-glut as early as the sixth minute of the game, scoring direct from a 25-yard free kick after he had been fouled by Vasco skipper Keenin Lesch.
Usuthu’s lead lasted just 15 minutes, with Lesch equalising just before the midway point of the first half with a header. Sibusiso Zuma provided the ‘assist’ with a well-weighted cross.
And the Cape side took the lead for the first time on 36 minutes when midfielder Zeka Karkee scored with a long range shot that had the beating of AmaZulu goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela.
The score was 2-1 in favour of Vasco da Gama at half time, and the visitors were probably worthy of their lead.
Ten minutes into the second half AmaZulu brought themselves level at 2-2. Aidan Jenniker brought down Muziwandile Khwela in the box and referee Harry Lekitlane pointed to the penalty spot. Lehlohonolo Majoro converted the spot kick.
But Vasco surged ahead again in the 72nd minute, with Jonathan Armogam further enhancing his reputation with a close range goal to make it 3-2 in favour of the visitors.
AmaZulu seemed set for their first defeat in six games but with just three minutes of regulation time remaining they drew level once again. Goodman Dlamini crashed home a shot from outside the penalty area to make it 3-3 and ensure a share of the spoils.