A late goal from Surprise Moriri handed Mamelodi Sundowns a 2-1 win over Free State Stars in an Absa Premiership encounter played at Loftus Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The win moves the Brazilians back to the summit of the Premiership table.
Cuthbert Malajila opened the scoring for the hosts before Camaldine Abraw levelled matters for Stars. The game looked to be heading for a draw but Moriri bagged a goal three minutes from coming off the bench to secure all three points for ‘Downs.
Pitso Mosimane made one enforced change to his starting XI, with Anthony Laffor replacing Khama Billiat, who was ruled out of the encounter after being involved in a car accident over the past weekend.
Club captain Alje Schut returned to the starting XI in place of Wayne Arendse. Schut sat out the game against Polokwane City after picking up a virus.
Meanwhile, Free State Stars mentor Steve Komphela made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Bidvest Wits last time out.
Bokang Tlhone, Mongezi Bobe and Angelo Kerspuy were included in the starting line-up in place of Reuben Thebakang, Lucky Mokoena and Enva Wiltwer.
The opening 10 minutes failed to produce any attempts on target, with Camaldine Abraw and Hlompho Kekana notably sending their long range attempts at either side of the pitch over the crossbar.
‘Downs looked the more threating of the two sides in the early exchanges and Alje Schut went close in the 13th minute of the encounter, sending his glancing header just wide of Daniel Agyei’s right hand post.
Malajila should’ve given the home side the lead in the 21st minute but the Zimbabwean could only manage to send his header over the bar from close range.
The striker made up for his miss six minutes later, heading in from a Dove Wome corner-kick. The former Maritzburg United United forward lost his marker before nodding in from close range to bag his fifth goal of the campaign.
‘Downs continued to create the better chances and almost doubled their lead two minutes before the break.
Former Ea Lla Koto midfielder Dove Wome’s corner-kick caught Agyei unaware and almost snuck in, luckily for the keeper the ball only managed to trouble the upright.
Free State Stars’ best chance of the half came in stoppage time, with Camaldine Abraw’s turn and shot going just wide of Kennedy Mweene’s goal.
The Brazilians went into the break a goal to the good.
It was a very open start to the second stanza with both sides creating opportunities to add to their tally.
Abraw levelled matters seven minutes into the second half, tapping in from close range.
Mongezi Bobe beat the offside trap before sliding the ball into the path of Abraw, who stabbed the ball past Mweene to net his first goal of the campaign.
Stars looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the second half and should’ve taken the lead on a number of occasions, but poor finishing let them down.
The Brazilians regained the lead four minutes from time through second half substitute Surprise Moriri.
Malajila picked out Moriri after a quick counter-attack, the veteran midfielder rolled back the years taking the ball down beautifully before guiding his effort into the back of the net.
The goal made for a tense final few minutes but the Brazilians held on to move to the summit of the table. Free State Stars drop down to 14th place on the log.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Malajila 27’ Moriri 86’) Free State Stars (0) 1 (Abraw 52’)
Mamelodi Sundowns: Mweene, Langerman, Schut, Sumaila, Moon, Kekana (Moriri 83’), Laffor, Zungu, Wome (Shongwe 64’), Malajila, Mashego (Ramagalela 64’)
Free State Stars: Agyei, Masehe, Ouro-Akoriko, Shabalala, Tlhone, Bobe (Yende 54’), Mashego, Kerspuy, Nomandela (Esterhuizen 75’), Venter, Abraw (Basit 66’)
The rest of yesterday’s league results are Golden Arrows 2 v Moroka Swallows 1, BidVest Wits 1 v University of Pretoria 0 and AmaZulu 1 v Polokwane City 1.-www.psl.co.za