Mamelodi Sundowns beat Maritzburg United to go four points clear of chasing AmaZulu
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CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns opened a four-point lead at the top of the DStv Premiership standings after their 2-0 win over a highly competitive Maritzburg United side at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on Wednesday afternoon.
Sundowns led 1-0 at halftime but on numerous occasions in the first half, Maritzburg looked the likelier to score but they failed to convert their opportunities.
In the end, Maritzburg came away empty-handed and will drop down a notch into 12th place on the latest standings.
Sundowns served early notice of their attacking threat and had the ball in the net in the fifth minute, but the effort was ruled offside.
In the 16th minute, Sundowns were foiled by the woodwork twice in quick succession. Ace striker Peter Shalulile produced both efforts via a low drive and a header from a corner.
Once Maritzburg absorbed the pressure without conceding a goal, they produced several assertive passages of play. This effort was worth at least two goals by the time the first half ended. Striker Bongokuhle Hlongwane proved a handful for Sundowns' shaky defence and came close to scoring on two occasions.
Brazilian Ricardo Nascimento claimed the first goal of the match in the 37th minute, somewhat against the run of play. He scored from the 'spot' after referee Abongile Tom penalised Maritzburg midfielder Clayton Daniels for a foul on Sundowns playmaker Gift Motupa.
In the second half, Sundowns produced a strong start and continued to hold the upper hand until the end of the game, by which time they doubled their lead.
Motupa scored with an angled low drive past German goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt in the Maritzburg goals.
Sundowns looked to be well on their way to a fourth successive league title. They play TS Galaxy on Sunday at the Mbombela Stadium.
Maritzburg host KZN rivals Golden Arrows at the Harry Gwala Stadium next Wednesday.