Mamelodi Sundowns brushed aside Swallows FC 2-0 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday evening to rack up an eighth straight win in the DStv Premiership.
Second-half strikes from Neo Maema and Themba Zwane saw the Brazilians to victory, and they now lead the league by seven points from nearest chasers SuperSport United (who moved into second spot earlier in the day with a victory at Cape Town City).
As for the Birds, this is a second straight defeat since the league’s restart this past weekend and leaves them in the relegation playoff spot (15th), two points ahead of bottom-of-the-log Maritzburg United.
Sundowns dominated the early exchanges and created a few threatening moments against Swallows’ low-block defence.
Yet it was the Birds who enjoyed the first clear chance of the game on 18 minutes, with Gregory Damons’ free kick finding the head of Kwanda Mngonyama, who saw his goal-bound header superbly saved by ‘keeper Ronwen Williams.
The Brazilians went on to boss possession through the remainder of the first half, but they too often lacked the patience and/or incision necessary to cut open Swallows’ disciplined defence, leaving the game goalless at the interval.
The visitors opted for a double change at the start of the second half to try and add more presence in attack, with Mwape Musonda and Waseem Isaacs replacing Mbulelo Wambi and Kagiso Malinga.
Sundowns finally called Thakasani Mbanjwa into a notable save on 53 minutes, with Gaston Sirino latching onto a fine pass from Neo Maema, but his low shot was kept out by the legs of the Swallows ‘keeper.
Yet 10 minutes later Maema himself had the beating of Mbanjwa, picking up a cross which had passed through the box, working space for a shot and then cracking home a left-footed effort which put the hosts ahead.
And one quickly became two, with Themba Zwane powering forward from deep in midfield, combining beautifully with Cassius Mailula, and then firing a shot into the net from close range for 2-0 in the 67th minute.
Swallows almost pulled a goal back on 77 minutes when Damons picked out Isaacs with a cross from the right, but the burly striker’s powerful header rebounded off the crossbar.
That proved to be the last major highlight at either end of the field, with the Brazilians able to see out the remainder of the game comfortably to register their best run in the league since winning 10 straight in the 2013-14 season.
The teams will be back in DStv Premiership action on Friday 6 January, with Sundowns visiting Richards Bay and Swallows hosting Chippa United.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Maema 63’, Zwane 67’)
Swallows FC 0
Mamelodi Sundowns:Williams, Mudau, Kekana, Mvala, Ngobeni (Modiba 68’), Mokoena, Maema (Jali 84’), Zwane (Kapinga 73’), Allende, Sirino (Motupa 68’), Mailula (De Reuck 84’)
Swallows: Mbanjwa, Lukhubeni (L. Mtshali 73’), Sait, Allan, Sasman, Damons, Mngonyama, Matsheke (Makaringe 90+3’), Zulu, Wambi (Musonda 46’), Malinga (Isaacs 46’)
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