Peter Shalulile’s double outshone a brace from Victor Letsoalo as Mamelodi Sundowns opened up an 10-point lead (at the time of writing) at the top of the DStv Premiership table with a 3-2 victory over Royal AM at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Namibian Shalulile scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season after Thabiso Kutumela had opened the scoring for the Brazilians early on following an error in the visiting defence.
Substitute Letsoalo did manage to then pull two goals back late on and set up a tense finish, but it was not enough as the KwaZulu-Natal outfit missed the opportunity to climb second on the table.
Instead they remained third after suffering a fourth defeat of the campaign.
For the champions, however, they continued their march towards what is looking to be an uncontested race towards the title as they clinched their 10th win of the campaign.
They started emphatically when Kutumela scored after only six minutes when Thapelo Morena’s cross from the right was poorly cleared by defender Mzwanele Mahashe, allowing the striker to pounce and volley into the bottom left corner.
Then on the half-hour, Neo Maema’s explosive strike from the edge of the box was brilliantly tipped over by visiting goalkeeper Hugo Nyame as the hosts looked to double the advantage.
At the other end Kennedy Mweene did excellently to deny Tebogo Potsane at his feet, before the same player was controversially denied a free-kick after appearing to be pulled back by Mosa Lebusa while zoning in on goal.
And before the break, Ndumiso Mabena saw his strike parried wide by the Brazilians’ keeper after he escaped quickly and cut in from the right.
Just after the break, league top-scorer Shalulile came close when his effort fizzed inches past the post.
The top-scorer did find the target in the 65th minute following a blistering counter-attack that lead to a cool finish.
Seven minutes later, another fine break saw Andile Jali and Aubrey Modiba combine to send Shalulile away for another fine finish.
The Namibian was denied the hat-trick when his left-footed effort from a floated pass over the top thumped the crossbar and went over.
From there the game changed as Potsane’s cross for Letsoalo was volleyed in to hand the away side a lifeline.
The same player pulled another one back in the dying moments – his eighth goal of the term – after his team was awarded a dubious penalty when Sera Motebang’s cross from the right was deemed to have been handled by Rushine de Reuck
The 3-2 scoreline almost became 3-3 in the final moments, but Mweene somehow kept out a strike from point-blank range as Sundowns held on.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 3 (Kutumela 6’, Shalulile 65’, 72’)Royal AM (0) 2 (Victor Letsoalo 81’, 90’ pen)TEAMS
Mamelodi Sundowns: Mweene, Lebusa (Mvala 46’), De Reuck, Kekana, Vilakazi (Mkhulise 58’), Lakay (Modiba 58’), Morena, Jali, Maema (Kapinga 78’), Shalulile, Kutumela (Sirino 62’).
Royal AM: Nyame, Mahashe (Ncobeni 76’), Lingwati, Manganyi, Phalane, Monamodi (Motebang 76’), Mkhize, Mahlasela (Letsoalo 63’), Masuku, Potsane, Mabena (George 77’).© Backpage TXT