PRETORIA – A Percy Tau goal saw Mamelodi Sundowns extending their lead at the top of the standings with a 1-0 Premiership win over Maritzburg United at the Loftus Stadium on Wednesday night.
The KZN capital city club put up a good fight and were always in the game, although it was Sundowns who were the more threatening side over the 90 minutes and it was arguably a deserved win for the Pretoria team, who are now five points above second-placed Orlando Pirates.
With Maritzburg working hard to close Sundowns down – several players were probably fortunate not to have accumulated a second yellow card during the contest – and not shy to get stuck into the likes of the elusive Tau, the home side were unable to find a way through to goal early on.
Instead, it was the visitors who had the early chances as Lebogang Maboe flashed a dangerous ball across goal before he drew a good save from Denis Onyango with a stinging shot from a tight angle on 11 minutes.
Opportunities finally arrived for Masandawana around the half-hour mark, as Themba Zwane headed wide before Sibusiso Vilakazi wasted an opportunity by taking too long to shoot.
Lovely scenes post match, Coach Pitso chatting to the United players after a tough game at home! pic.twitter.com/tvVoyOyuvS— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) December 13, 2017
Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana also had a couple of chances, but his 20-yard shot was comfortably saved by Richard Ofori while a header was well off the mark.
Maritzburg had the first opportunity of the second half after a weak back-pass from Tebogo Langerman let Evans Rusike in goal, but Onyango did very well to close down the space and gather the ball.
However, the Brazilians were soon to take control and after a period of sustained pressure they made the breakthrough in the 64th minute when Kekana threaded a ball through for the outstanding Tau, who reacted sharply to take the ball in his stride before rifling a low shot past Ofori.
Tau continued to threaten, but on a couple of occasions, he found himself off-sides in front of goal.
The game remained tight though, and Pogiso Sanoka was close to scoring with a clever chipped effort 20 minutes from time.
Maritzburg thought they had equalised five minutes from time when Sanoka turned the ball in from close range, but he was correctly flagged off-sides.
The visitors pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing minutes and it took some backs-to-the-wall defending from Pitso Mosimane’s men to hold out for the victory, their fifth in six league outings.
African News Agency