Mamelodi Sundowns claimed a statement win in the DStv Premiership on Saturday afternoon, thumping fellow heavyweights Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Stinging from a surprise midweek home defeat at the hands of TS Galaxy, the Brazilians responded with authority, condemning the Amakhosi to a second defeat in the opening three rounds of the new season thanks to goals from Gaston Sirino, Peter Shalulile (two) and new signing Abubeker Nasir.
The result sees the defending champions rise to the top of the table on goal difference ahead of Royal AM (who were beaten at Stellenbosch FC in a concurrent clash), while the Soweto giants (for whom the 4-0 score line represented a heaviest ever Premiership defeat) were given a fresh reminder of how far off the standard of a title-winning team they have fallen in recent years.
The teams traded early half-chances, but Sundowns claimed the lead in the sixth minute thanks to their high press: Chiefs, in trying to play out from their own penalty, saw two poor touches from Siyabonga Ngezana, allowing Gaston Sirino to latch onto a short back-pass and stab the ball beyond Bruce Bvuma for 1-0.
Things got worse for the Amakhosi on the quarter hour mark when Sundowns sliced through the defence and Peter Shalulile looked set to shoot on goal, before being bundled over by Ngezana to see a debatable penalty awarded by referee Victor Gomes (who also erred in cautioning Zitha Kwinika, in a case of mistaken identity).
Shalulile duly cracked home a low shot from 12 yards to make it 2-0 in the 17th minute and put the Brazilians in full control of the match.
Chiefs had a chance to pull a goal back just past the half-hour mark when Khama Billiat teed up Cole Alexander, but the midfielder’s shot from the right of the penalty area only found the side netting.
On 37 minutes the visitors put together their best spell of play, ending with Keagan Dolly picking out the late run of Yusuf Maart, who got away a shot from the edge of the penalty area but saw the ball flash over the crossbar.
The interval arrived with ‘Downs two goals to the good, though Chiefs had managed to build some momentum in the latter stages of the first half, giving them hope of turning around the game in the second 45.
The Amakhosi opted for a double change at the restart, with Njabulo Ngcobo and Kgaogelo Sekgota replacing Ngezana and Alexander, and they should have brought themselves right back into the game on 50 minutes when Reeve Frosler had a glaring chance in the middle of the penalty area but struck wide of the mark.
And they were made to pay for their misses, as Shalulile struck home a third in the 53rd minute. Neo Maema and Themba Zwane combined to give the Namibian space to shoot in the penalty area, and he swept home a left-footed shot for 3-0.
The Soweto side were thrown a lifeline when Teboho Mokoena needlessly committed a clumsy foul on Sekgota just inside the box, leading to a penalty for the visitors on 55 minutes. However, former ‘Downs star Billiat saw his spot kick, and a follow-up effort, both saved by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Sundowns, with a commanding lead, cruised through the remainder of the match, with their only worry a hamstring injury for the excellent Andile Jali, who was replaced midway through the second half by Sphelele Mkhulise.
The Brazilians even netted a fourth goal on 76 minutes, with substitute Nasir scoring a superb solo effort in which he drove inside from the left flank, bamboozled Chiefs’ defenders with his neat footwork, before firing home a low, left-footed drive.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next Saturday, 20 August, with Sundowns away to Sekhukhune United and Chiefs hosting Richards Bay.
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 4 (Sirino 6’, Shalulile 17’ pen 53’, Nasir 76’)
Kaizer Chiefs 0
Sundowns: Williams, Mudau, De Reuck, B. Onyango, Modiba (Morena 79’), Jali (Mkhulise 66’), Mokoena, Maema (Lakay 60’), Zwane (Kapinga 79’), Sirino (Nasir 60’), Shalulile
Chiefs: Bvuma, Blom, Ngezana (Nj. Ngcobo 46’), Kwinika, Frosler, Sithebe (Nk. Ngcobo 72’), Alexander (Sekgota 46’), Maart, Solomons, Dolly (Radebe 78’), Billiat