Mamelodi Sundowns returned to the winning trail in the DStv Premiership with a 3-0 victory over Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Pirates made three changes with Tshegofatso Mabasa, Linda Mntambo and Abel Mabasa dropping out. Most notably captain Thulani Hlatshwayo returned to the side. Sundowns made two changes with Peter Shalulile replacing Andile Jali and Ricardo Nascimento coming in for Rushine de Reuck.
Sundowns were doing most of the early attacking and in the ninth minute, Lebohang Maboe lined up a volley on the edge of the area that went wide of goal.
In the 22nd minute, Aubrey Modiba was picked out in space on Sundowns’ left and looked to pick out Zwane at the far post, but his cross went over his head.
Moments afterwards, Innocent Maela went for goal from long range, but it was a comfortable save for Denis Onyango.
It was a rather uneventful first-half with most of the match played in the middle of the park, but ten minutes before the interval the Buccaneers won a free kick taken by Deon Hotto, who floated one into Ntsikelelo Nyauza’s path, but the defender couldn’t connect with the ball.
The Brazilians suffered a blow on the stroke of half-time when Kermit Erasmus suffered an injury with it looking unlikely that he would return in the second half.
As expected, Erasmus was indeed replaced at half-time with Gift Motupa coming on his place. Two minutes after the resumption, Pirates very nearly made the breakthrough. The corner kick was taken by Hotto and flicked goalwards by Vincent Pule, whose header flashed dangerously across the face of goal and almost crept in the far corner.
Aubrey Modiba then found Shalulile with an excellent raking ball. The Namibian controlled superbly and smashed a volley towards goal on the turn which struck the arm of Maela in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Ricardo Nascimento placed the penalty into the top left corner with an assured left foot to make it 2-0.
Pirates were throwing numbers forward as they fought to work their way back into the tie and Pule played the ball to the left-hand byline for Paseka Mako, who fired the ball across the face of the Downs goal. Pule was replaced soon afterwards after appearing to injure his hamstring.
The visitors were looking to extend their lead even further and Maboe played the one-two with Shalulile and fizzed an effort wide of the right-hand upright.
Shalulile would come back to haunt Pirates having scored in the reverse fixture. The Bucs tried to play out from the back and Hlatshwayo was dispossessed by Motupa who slipped it into Shalulile with the Namibian rifling the ball past Sandilands into the bottom left corner.
It was 3-0 just a few minutes later. Lyle Lakay curled a sumptuous free-kick over the wall which hit the inside of the right hand post before going in with Sandilands standing absolutely no chance.
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