Posted: 30 April 2016Time: 07:30 pm
Mamelodi Sundowns took a big step towards the league title after a 3-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in a pulsating and controversial Absa Premiership clash at Loftus Stadium on Saturday.
Where do we start?
The game was of high quality and high incident from the first kick-off as referee Robert Smith opted to flash his cards early, softly booking Leonardo Castro, Lorenzo Gordinho and Keegan Ritchie for innocuous infringements. Perhaps Castro’s elbow on Willard Katsande was a deserved card.
Sundowns had the first penalty appeal of the match when Hlompho Kekana’s shot struck Keegan Ritchie on the hand as he turned his back to block the shot, but Smith waved it away. It was handball but in truth it would have been a harsh penalty call.
The tempo was frantic, meaningful, and Sundowns bossed the final third in the opening stages in an end-to-end contest, until the game turned on a very controversial note.
George Maluleka played a short corner before crossing for Gordinho to head home on the dive to put Amakhosi 1-0 up in the 35th minute.
Except that it wasn’t a header – television replays showed Gordinho clearly used his hand to bundle the ball over the line ‘Hand of Gordinho’ style and despite vehement protests from his marker Thabo Nthethe and other Sundowns players, the goal stood.
Downs had another penalty appeal waved away when Mzikayise Mashaba went tumbling in the area, this time a good call from the referee.
Sundowns were never out of it and got the goal they deserved just before half-time when Castro ghosted to the near post totally unmarked to brilliantly glance in Khama Billiat’s free-kick cross from the left.
At half-time, 1-1 felt like the right scoreline after an evenly contested battle.
In the second half both teams stepped up a gear and more end-to-end action was witnessed before Sundowns were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute. Keagan Dolly got to the left side of the penalty area and crossed onto Mathoho’s arm, which he tried to keep behind his back, and referee Smith point to the spot.
Captain Nthethe, ‘Mr Cool’, made no mistake and slotted under Itumeleng Khune to put his side 2-1 up. Khune will feel he should have saved the attempt, which crept in under his arm.
Then Gordinho, somewhat fittingly, was sent off for second yellow card after another deliberate handball, this time to prevent a Kekana throughball, and Chiefs went down to 10 men with 66 minutes on the clock.
Downs quickly made their numerical advantage count when Billiat’s dangerous set-piece delivery from the right was swept into his own net by an outstretched Katsande, and it was 3-1 with 20 minutes still remaining.
From then on it was all uphill for Steve Komphela’s side as Sundowns controlled possession for the remainder of the match. Chiefs were unable to find a way back despite the introductions of William Twala and Edward Manqele.
The result asserts Sundowns’ position at the top of the log, six points ahead of second-placed Bidvest Wits after they drew against Chippa United, with three games left in the season.
Sundowns: Onyango, Mphahlele, Arendse, Nthethe, Langerman, Kekana, Mabunda, Mashaba (Modise 90+3’), Dolly (Malajila 84’), Billiat (S Zwane 71’), Castro
Chiefs: Khune, Moleko, Mathoho, Gordinho, Ritchie, Katsande, Letsholonyane, Maluleka (Twala 57’), Tshabalala, Lebese (Manqele 71’), Parker
Article by: Mark Herman