Mamelodi Sundowns opened a three-point lead at the top of the DStv Premiership after defeating Baroka FC 2-0 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result, secured by goals from Lyle Lakay and Themba Zwane, sees the Brazilians move clear of nearest chasers Swallows FC (who will be in action on Sunday in the ‘original’ Soweto derby), while Bakgaga remain in eighth spot and are now 12 points off the pace of their opponents after suffering a fourth defeat of the campaign.
Sundowns started on the front and Peter Shalulile forced Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke into a fine save as early as the second minute, with the match quickly settling into a pattern of possession dominance from the visitors and the home side looking to hit with speed on the counter attack.
Masuluke made another fine save on 13 minutes when he turned away a shot direct from a free kick by Themba Zwane, and a short while later the crossbar came to the ‘keeper’s rescue when Shalulile saw his header rebound off the woodwork.
Baroka’s attacking threat was sporadic, but they did force Sundowns’ Denis Onyango into a sharp save on 21 minutes with a dipping strike from Kgosido Monama.
The teams cancelled each other out for the remainder of the first half, though Sundowns were achingly close to an opening goal in injury time before the interval, with another Shalulile header hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing down onto – but not over – the goal line.
The second half picked up where the first left off, as Masuluke made an excellent save to tip a Mothobi Mvala header from a corner kick over his crossbar in the 50th minute, signalling the start of an intense spell of pressure from ‘Downs.
The Brazilians finally broke through in the 56th minute, with Lyle Lakay scoring with a shot direct from a free kick. Masuluke would have been furious with the defensive wall, which split in front of him and allowed a path for the ball to find the bottom corner of the net.
Sundowns controlled the remainder of the game, though they struggled to recreate the attacking rhythm they enjoyed early in the second half. Baroka had a couple of promising moments, but lacked the nous and precision to open up the visitors’ defence.
The Limpopo hosts were reduced to 10 men late in the game as Denwin Farmer cynically pulled down Shalulile when the striker was almost clean through on goal. Sundowns took advantage of their numerical superiority when a slick passing move ended with Zwane firing into the top corner from the middle of the box in the first minute of injury time.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next Saturday, January 16, with Sundowns away to SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby and Baroka at home to high-flying Swallows FC.
Baroka FC 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Lakay 56’, Zwane 90+1’)
Baroka: Masuluke, Mphahlele, Farmer, Shozi, Gebhardt, Patjie (Nkhona 74’), Kambala (Mahlonoko 64’), Mosele, Phiri Jr (Mogale 64’), Mgaga, Monama (Jampies 90’)
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Morena, Nascimento, B. Onyango, Lakay, Maboe (Maluleka 80’), Coetzee, Mvala (Jali 80’), Modiba (Sirino 60’), Zwane, Shalulile.