Mamelodi Sundowns have returned to the top of the DStv Premiership after they defeated Marumo Gallants 1-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Brazilians reclaimed first place from Tshwane rivals SuperSport United – who had leapfrogged to pole position on Tuesday – thanks to a first-half strike from Sphelele Mkhulise, while Bahlabane Ba Ntwa suffered a third defeat of the season and remain in last spot on the log.
The first shot in anger came from Sundowns’ Marcelo Allende in the fifth minute, with the Chilean attacker drawing a fine save from Marumo goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
Eight minutes later Themba Zwane threatened the opener, getting across his marker before firing off a shot that flashed across the face of goal.
The Brazilians continued to build pressure and were rewarded in the 28th minute, with Sphelele Mkhulise turning home an assist from Teboho Mokoena – emphatically finishing off a flowing team move from the hosts.
Marumo offered little in return, as they struggled to bring the likes of Katlego Otladiso and Riyaaz Nel into the game, but they were at least able to see out the remainder of the first half and head to the interval with the score at just 1-0.
‘Downs picked up in the second half where they left off in the first and nearly added to their advantage via Mokoena, who crashed a shot into the side netting on 48 minutes.
Gallants looked to shake things up and made a triple change 10 minutes after the restart, introducing Nku Lesiba, Sibusiso Khumalo and Ismael Toure off the bench.
And the visitors did gain some traction in the match, putting together some promising attacks and winning several corner kicks around the hour mark to put Sundowns somewhat on the back foot.
The Brazilians responded by throwing on Haashim Domingo and Thapelo Morena in order to gain more control in the middle of the park and stymie Marumo’s hopes of mounting a comeback.
Yet chances continued to arrive for Bahlabane Ba Ntwa, with Sundowns needing Mosa Lebusa to make two fantastic defensive blocks in the 76th minute, while goalkeeper Ronwen Williams made a fine save in the 87th minute to keep out an attempt from Cheick Soumahoro.
The Brazilians’ defence managed to hold firm and see out the remainder of the game to secure a 1-0 win to take them back to the head of the standings – despite having played at least one game less than every other team in the top half.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next midweek with catch-up matches: Sundowns will be away to Maritzburg United on October 25, while Marumo will host AmaZulu the following day.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Mkhulise 28’)
Marumo Gallants 0
Sundowns: Williams, Mudau (Mailula 82’), Lebusa, De Reuck, Kekana, Mvala (Zungu 74’), Mkhulise (Maboe 82’), Mokoena, Zwane, Sirino (Morena 68’), Allende (Domingo 67’)
Gallants: Arubi, Khiba (Toure 56’), Nkili, Nonyane, Mabotja, Mohomi (Khumalo 55’), Mdlinzo, Ngema, Otladisa (Soumahoro 71’), Maraisane (Lesiba 55’), Nel (Koapeng 85’)
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