Mamelodi Sundowns have opened a five-point lead at the top of the DStv Premiership after defeating Baroka FC 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Brazilians secured their 10th win of the league season thanks to second-half strikes from Gaston Sirino and Peter Shalulile, putting clear daylight between themselves and nearest chasers SuperSport United.
Bakgaga, meanwhile, were arguably the better team for the first two thirds of the match but ultimately succumbed to the superior class of ‘Downs to suffer their seventh defeat of the season and remain in 10th place on the log.
Sundowns created the early pressure, with the pace and movement of Themba Zwane, Sirino and Shalulile causing all kinds of strife for the Baroka defence.
Yet the visitors created the first clear scoring chance of the game: on 18 minutes Thamsanqa Masiya did great work down the right flank to win a scrap with Lyle Lakay before picking out Evidence Makgopa, but the striker’s low shot was saved by ‘Downs goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
On 32 minutes the Limpopo side threatened again, as a long pass was flicked on for Masiya, who beat the onrushing Onyango to the ball but was unable to accurately steer his lob, with the effort travelling just wide of the target.
The Brazilians saw plenty of the ball, but rarely called Bakgaga goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze into notable action – apart from one heart-in-mouth moment when he dropped a cross but was not punished by Sirino.
Goalless at the break, both Sundowns and Baroka looked to boost their attacks with the introductions of Kermit Erasmus and Joslin Kamatuka respectively, within 10 minutes of the restart. The latter fluffed a great chance to opening the scoring just before the hour mark, failing to turn home a fine cut-back from Masiya.
Erasmus made a fine impact off the bench and provided an assist as Sundowns broke the deadlock on 63 minutes, providing a perfectly weighted chip over the defence to allow Sirino to run onto the ball, open up his body and send a low, right-footed shot beyond the left hand of Chipezeze.
Just five minutes later it was 2-0, with Erasmus’ low shot from a tight angle well saved by the ‘keeper, only for Shalulile to fire home the rebound from close range and effectively end the game as a contest.
Erasmus almost claimed what would have been a richly-deserved goal given his influence in changing the game, but he struck the post after meeting a fine ball played across the face of goal by Shalulile in the 74th minute.
On 78 minutes Baroka substitute Phelelani Shozi struck a volley on target – with Onyango caught well out of position – but Ricardo Nascimento made a heroic headed clearance off the goal line to ensure there was no spark of hope for the visitors.
Baroka ended the game strongly, but could find no way past Onyango despite creating a handful of presentable chances in the dying minutes.
Baroka will be back in DStv Premiership action on Saturday with a Limpopo derby against Black Leopards, while Sundowns’ scheduled match against Maritzburg United has been delayed to aid their travel arrangements for a CAF Champions League clash away in Algeria next midweek.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Sirino 63’, Shalulile 68’)
Baroka FC 0
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Lebusa, Coetzee, Nascimento, Maboe (Kapinga 85’), Mkhulise (Morena 75’), Mvala (Erasmus 55’), Lakay, Zwane, Sirino (Domingo 85’), Shalulile
Baroka: Chipezeze, Mphahlele, Makume, Gebhardt, Jampies (Shozi 75’), Masiya (Mogale 89’), Mosele, Kambala (Monama 75’), Mgaga (Kamatuka 51’), Phiri Jnr (Patjie 75’), Makgopa© Backpage TXT