Goals from Mor Diouf, Diyo Sibisi and Rudolph Bester saw Maritzburg United hammer Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in an Absa Premiership match played at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result sees ‘Downs’ title hopes extinguished and United’s place in the top flight safe after Vasco da Gama lost in their league match.
It was a wonderful start for the home side as they found the back of the net as early as the fifth minute after some poor goalkeeping by Wayne Sandilands.
United whipped in an in-swinging free-kick from the left side of the field and, uncharacteristically, the ‘Downs keeper spilled the cross straight into the path of Mor Diouf six-yards out from goal. The Maritzburg player made no mistake side-footing the ball into an empty net, 1-0.
The Brazilians seemed a little shocked after a blistering start by the Team of Choice and Sundowns were lucky not to go a second goal downs eight minutes later.
A great passing movement by the home side saw Gert Schalkwyk find some space just inside the 18-yard area, but he squandered the golden scoring opportunity when his shot sailed just past the upright.
Slowly, though, Sundowns did start to find their footing in the game and hit the woodwork themselves in the 15th minute.
Katlego Mphela struck a powerful 30-yard free-kick goalwards, but his effort deflected off the defensive wall and completely wrong footed the United goalkeeper. Luckily enough for Shu-Aib Walters the ball only struck the right-hand post and not the back of his net.
After that, however, it was Maritzburg who played the better football as they stroked the ball around the park beautifully and at times opened up the ‘Downs defence with ease, but their finishing lacked something to be desired.
Still, when United did manage to get their shooting right Sandilands was there to deny them. A perfect example of this was in the 28th minute when the ‘Downs keeper did brilliantly diving to his right to push away a 20-yard Rudolph Bester shot.
Nonetheless, there was nothing Sandilands could do in 40th minute when Diyo Sibisi scored from the penalty spot.
The referee adjudged Eduardo Ferreira to have fouled Sibisi inside the box. Subsequently, Sibisi took the penalty and doubled his side’s lead, 2-0, giving them a firm advantage going into the half time break.
The second half seemed to continue in the same fashion and United put the game beyond doubt when they found their third goal in the 53rd minute.
Another swift passing movement by the Team of Choice saw Bester in some space 16-yards out from goal and buried the ball into the back of the net with a firm strike, 3-0.
With ‘Downs seemingly down and out they did pull a goal back in the 62nd minute. Ferreira made up for his discretion earlier in the game when he pounced on a loose ball in a goalmouth scramble and fired it into the back of the net, 3-1.
Thereafter, the Brazilians pressed forward in the hope of an amazing comeback but it was not to be as the game finished 3-1 in favour of United.-Backpagepix