Mamelodi Sundowns strengthened their hold of top spot in the DStv Premiership with a 1-0 win over title rivals Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A cracking, end-to-end match which could have produced numerous goals was decided by a first-half header from Brazilians striker Brian Onyango, with the result sending the reigning champions three points clear of nearest chasers Swallows FC. The Buccaneers’ first loss of the season leaves them in fifth place and eight points adrift of the top, though they have played a game less than ‘Downs.
The hosts were able to hold their lead up to the halftime interval. The second stanza opened with Pirates replacing Wayde Jooste with Siphesihle Ndlovu in a substitution which brought a change of shape and tactics for the visitors.
Sundowns sought more midfield control with the introduction of Andile Jali, while Kermit Erasmus added to their threat on the counter attack, and Bucs continued to add more potency to their offence by putting on Frank Mhango in place of Makaringe.
Half-chances continued to be created at both ends right to the final whistle, but ultimately Sundowns emerged 1-0 winners and claimed three points which could prove very valuable in the championship reckoning.
Both teams are scheduled to be in CAF club action this coming midweek, with Sundowns hosting Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy in the Champions League (the first leg ended 2-0 in favour of the Brazilians) and Pirates hosting Angola’s Sagrada Esperanca in the Confederation Cup (the Buccaneers lead 1-0 in the tie).
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (B. Onyango 35’)
Orlando Pirates 0
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Mudau (Jali 61’), Nascimento, B. Onyango, Lakay, Morena, Coetzee, Mvala, Modiba (Erasmus 61’), Maboe (Mkhulise 84’), Shalulile (Soumahoro 90’)
Pirates: Sandilands, Jooste (Ndlovu 46’), Nyauza, Hlatshwayo, Maela (Zungu 86’), Motshwari (Monyane 86’), Makaringe (Mhango 65’), Lorch, Hotto, Pule, Dzvukamanja (Mundele 78’)