Three-goal hero Zwane the star of the show as Sundowns win seven-goal thriller in Pretoria
Themba Zwane showed why he is the best player in South African football when he scored a quick hattrick against AmaZulu to send the champions back to the summit of the Premiership standings at Loftus on Sunday afternoon.
The reigning Footballer of the Season and Player's player of the season scored one of the fastest hattricks in the domestic topflight when he beat AmaZulu goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha three times inside 11 minutes to spearhead Sundowns to a 4-3 win in a fast-paced seven-goal thriller.
Sundowns had to fight for all the points and actually had to claw their way from behind after they were stunned by an early strike from Lehlohonolo Majoro in the 15th minute.
That early strike from the visitors set the tone for what was to be an exciting league match in the nation's capital.
The opportunistic Majoro capitalised on a defensive error from captain Ricardo Nascimento and stole the ball from the careless Brazilian player‚ and then beating goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene with a well-taken deft strike to score the opening goal of the game.
AmaZulu players were guilty of the same and were seemingly still in an euphoric mood when the Zwane show suddenly began‚ with the classy midfielder visibly shifting into second gear.
The visitors failed to pick up the lurking midfielder at the edge of the area and after he received a beautiful pass from Peter Shalulile‚ he unleashed a venomous strike that sneaked past Mbatha at the near post to bring the home side on level terms in the 19th minute.
But Zwane was not done and worked himself into space with some silky touches between a bevy of defenders before firing a breath-taking curling shot with his left foot that beat Mbatha a minute late.
That second goal was a thing of beauty and will surely be immortalised on YouTube for months to come.
Zwane completed his hat trick in the 30th minute when he beat Mbatha with a low shot after he was unselfishly set up by Kermit Erasmus‚ who himself could have scored.
The two sides continued to ask questions of each other and it was perhaps something of a surprise that more goals were not scored in the first half.
The second period began on a similarly frantic pace and AmaZulu won a penalty two minutes into the restart after Nascimento handled the ball in the area.
The seemingly generous Nascimento was AmaZulu's biggest benefactor on the afternoon and a grateful Luvuyo Memela beat Mweene with a low shot on the rebound after the Sundowns goalkeeper had managed to save the initial shot.
AmaZulu were suddenly back in the match but their march was stopped in its tracks when Shalulile scored with a beautiful header after a Lyle Lakay corner in the 56th minute.
But AmaZulu were never completely out of this game and continued to probe‚ never allowing themselves to be frustrated by the 4-2 scoreline they were chasing.
They were duly rewarded when Sandile Khumalo rose above everyone else on the pitch to head past a bewildered Mweene in the 59th minute‚ bringing the visitors within a goal away from an equaliser.
Khumalo's late strike ensured a nervous finish for Sundowns and the champions defended desperately‚ determined to emerge from Loftus with all the points.
It was a leaky display in the back that will not have pleased the Sundowns coaching staff.
The win ensured that Swallows FC's stay at the top of the topflight standings lasted just 24 hours after they drew 0-0 with TS Galaxy on Saturday.
Other DStv Premiership results:
Saturday November 21 2020:
Black Leopards 1 - 0 Maritzburg United
Stellenbosch FC 2 - 0 Chippa United
Golden Arrows 2 - 2 Kaizer Chiefs
Orlando Pirates 2 - 1 SuperSport United
Swallows FC 0 - 0 Swallows FC
Sunday November 22 2020:
TTM 1 - 0 Baroka FC
Mamelodi Sundowns 4 - 3 AmaZulu
Cape Town City 4 - 2 Bloemfontein Celtic