Brazilians close in on Buccaneers
Mamelodi Sundowns got their title chase back on track with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Baroka FC, who have fallen into the relegation zone after losing at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane yesterday.
Ricardo Nascimento's first-half penalty and Themba Zwane's 57th-minute winner means Sundowns are now within three points of leaders Orlando Pirates with a game in hand. The defending champions, who had won only one of their last five league matches, have four games left while Pirates' schedule sees them with just three.
Baroka, who had midfielder Rodwell Chinyenkentere sent off with 15 minutes to go, dropped a place to 15th spot, now behind Chippa United on goal difference.
The match marked the first start since October for Sundowns midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi, back after a horror knee injury suffered while training with the national team.
He has had two substitute appearances since being declared fit but this was his first start and it did not take long for him to again show the silky skills of old.
It would have put some gloss on his comeback had he taken a simple chance after just nine minutes when he combined with Themba Zwane and Lebogang Maboe to find himself staring at an open goal but from close range somehow contrived to miss.But Vilakazi won the penalty that handed Sundowns the breakthrough in the 38th minute after a clumsy challenge from rookie defender Lawrence Ntswane. Nascimento converted to give Sundowns what they deserved for their dominance in the first half.Baroka, much better after the break, equalised through Onkabeste Makgantai after an errant goalkick from Kennedy Mweene but parity lasted only five minutes before another intricate passing move allowed Zwane a comfortable finish.Baroka FC(0) 1Mamelodi Sundowns(1) 2GOALS: Baroka - Onkabeste Makgantai (53m). Sundowns - Ricardo Nascimento (38m, pen), Themba Zwane (57m) at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.