Mamelodi Sundowns have again asserted their dominance in the DStv Premiership, recording a 2-0 away win over Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result, secured by a brace of second-half goals from Peter Shalulile, sees the Brazilians continue to top the log (with 13 points from a possible 15), all while keeping up their record of not having conceded a league goal so far in 2021-22.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have suffered their first loss of the league campaign and were given a reality check in regards to the gap between themselves and the reigning champions. The Soweto side remained fourth on the log, at least temporarily.
Sundowns started brightly and created a couple of early half chances, the best of which saw Themba Zwane shoot over the target in the ninth minute, while Thabiso Kutumela was also a busy man against his former team, trying his luck with several long-range efforts in the opening quarter.
The first notable effort on target from either side arrived in the 30th minute, with Pirates’ full-back Bandile Shandu running onto a clever reverse pass from Vincent Pule and looking to fool the goalkeeper with a low shot toward the near post rather than a cross, but Denis Onyango was sharp enough to make a good save.
Pirates looked to be the better team up to the half-time break, while ‘Downs did find the back of the net through Peter Shalulile in injury time, but the effort was correctly disallowed for offside and the teams were level at 0-0 heading into the change rooms.
The second half saw the Brazilians move through the gears and they claimed the lead on 54 minutes: Kutumela did great work down the right flank to burst past two defenders before playing in a low cross from the by-line, and Shalulile provided a first-time finish via the underside of the crossbar which gave goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane no chance at all.
Pirates nearly levelled the game five minutes later, with Pule’s low cross from the left turned toward his own goal by a lunging Rushine De Reuck, but Onyango again showed fine reflexes to make a save and keep his side in the ascendancy.
The Brazilians effectively put the game beyond the Buccaneers with a second Shalulile goal on 72 minutes: Lyle Lakay’s diagonal was chested down by the Namibian, before he squeezed the ball past Mpontshane’s right hand for a fine finish from a tight angle.
By contrast, Pirates had a chance to pull a goal back on 82 minutes when Tshegofatso Mabasa got in behind the Sundowns defence, but his attempt at a finish was too close to Onyango and allowed the Ugandan ‘keeper to make another good save.
Three minutes later Onyango showed his quality once again, turning a fine strike from the ‘D’ of the box by substitute Kabelo Dlamini over the crossbar for a corner kick, as the Brazilians kept a fifth clean sheet from as many matches in the Premiership thus far.
Sundowns will be in MTN8 action in midweek, playing Golden Arrows at home on Tuesday 28 September for the second leg of their semifinal tie, before both teams return to league action next weekend: Pirates will be away to Cape Town City on Saturday 2 October and the Brazilians will host Swallows FC the next day.
Orlando Pirates 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Shalulile 54’ 72’)
PIRATES: Mpontshane, Mako, Jele, Hlatshwayo, Shandu (Makaringe 83’), Mosele (Ndlovu 83’), Mabaso (Monare 71’), Dzvukamanja (Makhubela 31’), Pule, Hotto (Dlamini 71’), Mabasa
SUNDOWNS: Onyango, Kekana, Lebusa, De Reuck, Lakay, Jali (Mvala 79’), Coetzee (Vilakazi 86’), Zwane (Domingo 63’), Shalulile, Erasmus (Safranko 63’), Kutumela (Maema 80’)© Backpage TXT