MAMELODI Sundowns virtually ended any hope Kaizer Chiefs have of winning the Absa Premiership title by defeating the Soweto giants 2-0 at Loftus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The result, secured thanks to goals from Zimbabwean striker Nyasha Mushekwi and Mozambican attacking midfielder Elias Pelembe, sees the Brazilians up to third place.
They are five points adrift of leaders Ajax Cape Town but have a game in hand against AmaZulu coming up on Wednesday. Amakhosi are six points adrift of the Urban Warriors with just two rounds of the season left to play.
Both sides opted for somewhat compromised backlines – Sundowns started young midfielder Siyabonga Ngubane at right-back, while Chiefs handed a first start to Amajita centre-back Lucky Baloyi.
The match started at a furious pace, with end-to-end attacks the order of the opening minutes. Chiefs certainly created the better chances in the first half; three times they broke the Sundowns offside trap but they were unable to capitalise on the opportunities.
Mandla Masango had two of the chances, first being brilliantly challenged by Ngubane, while on the second occasion he curled his shot wide of the far post. Josta Dladla also went one-on-one with Waynde Sandilands after a brilliant pass from Mthokozisi Yende but was denied by the goalkeeper.
Just past the half hour mark Sundowns broke the deadlock. Chiefs were unable to clear their lines after repeated attempts on goal from Teko Modise and Katlego Mphela. Eventually Mphela guided the ball away from traffic in the middle of the box towards Nyasha Mushekwi, who took advantage of uncharacteristically poor positioning from Itumeleng Khune to score with a left-footed shot.
And just seven minutes into the second stanza, the Brazilians doubled their lead. Mphela was again the architect, providing a looping cross from the right of the penalty area that allowed Elias Pelembe to crash home an unstoppable volley.
Chiefs reacted by using all three substitutions within 11 minutes of going 2-0 down and they proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game. However, they were unable to find a way past Man of the Match Sandilands, who made several excellent saves.
Sundowns could have even added to the score line through Mphela, who found himself one-on-one with Khune, but his chipped finish drifted just wide of the post.
In another match, Maritzburg United beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-1 away at the Mbombela Stadium. -Backpagepix