Mamelodi Sundowns have successfully defended their Absa Premiership title after securing a 1-0 win over relegated Free State Stars at Goble Park on Saturday.
Sundowns’ first clear-cut opportunity came in the 10th minute. Denis Onyango’s quick goalkick released Gaston Sirino to the byline on the left-hand side and the playmaker whipped in a cross to the near post with his left foot but Sibusiso Vilakazi could only direct his free header wide.
Five minutes later, Rivaldo Coetzee passed to Thapelo Morena with the winger feeding Hlompho Kekana, who got the better of Relebogile Mokhuoane down the right wing and fired a shot at goal from a tight angle but it was comfortably dealt with by Stars goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare.
Themba Zwane came close in the 23rd minute. Sirino was fouled deliberately by Rooi Mahamutsa but the referee played a good advantage as Mshishi drove in to the area and curled a brilliant effort inches wide of the left-hand upright.
Stars had their first decent attempt moments later when Sibusiso Hlubi fired in a free-kick towards the left-hand corner but it was well saved by Denis Onyango, who even managed to hold on to the ball at the first attempt.
Ea Lla Koto then tested Onyango twice in quick succession on the half-hour mark. First, the Sundowns shot-stopper made a meal of dealing with Hlubi’s effort when he fumbled but looked far more convincing in diving to his right to push Mokhuoane’s long-range drive away from danger moments later.
Sundowns eventually broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Vilakazi played a through ball in to the box for Zwane, who couldn’t control but it fell kindly to Mahlambi, who arrowed his effort in to the bottom right-hand corner.
Nikola Kavazovic made a change at half-time, bringing on experienced target man Eleazar Rodgers for Mokhuoane.
Mosimane’s men were given an almighty scare when Rodgers tapped in to the net from Hlubi’s drilled cross but the latter was deemed to have handled the ball in the build-up.
Mahlambi was having a good game, causing plenty of chaos in the Stars’ rearguard down the left-hand side in particular.
Makhehlene Makhaula’s deflected shot then forced Onyango in to a decent save. In the 65th minute, Vilakazi and Zwane played a one-two in the box with the former’s effort from a tight angle going across the face of goal and just wide.
Rooi Mahamutsa then saved Stars’ skins when Sifiso Mbhele made a dreadful error, allowing Zwane to sneak in behind him but his cross was intercepted brilliantly by the former Orlando Pirates defender.
With ten minutes to go, Downs failed to clear their lines from a Stars’ free-kick but Rodgers blazed the effort a metre over the bar.
In the end, Mosimane’s charges were able see out the clash and clinch the title for a ninth time in their history.
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Source: Soccer Laduma