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Sundowns keep iron grip on PSL fighting for three more points against Sekhukhune

27 November 2021 - 17:51
Mamelodi Sundowns' Themba Zwane in the DStv Premiership match against Sekhukhune United at Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on November 27 2021.
Mamelodi Sundowns' Themba Zwane in the DStv Premiership match against Sekhukhune United at Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on November 27 2021.
Image: Mamelodi Sundowns FC/Twitter

Mamelodi Sundowns kept an iron grip on their lead of the DStv Premiership, though they also had to fight for it beating Sekhukhune United 2-0 at Tuks Stadium on Saturday.

Neo Maema continued his sparkling form opening the scoring in the 21st minute, and Themba Zwane added the second in the 60th from a fortunately received penalty.

Downs were reduced to 10 men when Denis Onyango had to clatter down substitute Tshediso Patjie in the 86th.

Deciding how to play against Sundowns for smaller sides with infinitely lesser resources can be a case of damned if you do, or damned if you don’t.

Take the attack to Downs and they will absorb and punish the spaces a team leaves behind. Sit with a low block, aiming to counterattack, and sides invite the Brazilians to the stroll ball around in their half.

Promoted Sekhukhune chose the latter and the result was as expected. Downs came out moving the ball across the Tuks Stadium pitch with an unconcerned air of a walker taking his dog to the park.

Sekhukhune needed a more effective counterattack if the tactic was to work better. They worked hard to contain Downs, and were unfortunate to concede an incorrect penalty, but also paid the price for inviting chances.

In the opening 15 minutes, with Sekhukhune predictably tough to penetrate, Downs attempted shots from range.

A lapse of concentration by United, leaving dangerous Maema free at a cross, saw the home side pounce. From Khuliso Mudau’s delivery from the overlap on the right Peter Shalulile won the ball at the far post with his shoulder, into the path of Maema to take it down and crack a shot past goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata.

Moments later Shalulile took Zwane’s chip on the edge of the box, fashioned space and forced a stop from Nsabata.

It's not just the obvious quality, but also the calmness of a mentally-welded combination in dangerous situations that makes Downs so hard to defend against.

Andile Jali's free-kick chipped to Maema on the right was chested down and, under the attention of Cheslyn Jampies, the midfielder could have tried to hack in a cross and earn a corner. Instead he controlled, and passed inside to find the run of Shalulile.

Unfortunately for Sekhukhune, referee Christopher Kistoor got it wrong that Shalulile's shot was handballed by Nyiko Mobbie, when actually it was into the right-back's chest, and pointed to the spot. Zwane struck low to the left of Nsabata to make it 2-0.

Jampies's powerful swerving drive entering the final 15 minutes forced a rare but awkward stop from Onyango.

Downs’ keeper was left exposed when Mosa Lebusa gave the ball away to allow Patjie to speed through on goal, and Onyango had to come out of his box and foul and earn red. Jampies’s resultant free-kick was kept out by the man who replaced Onyango, Kennedy Mweene.