Mamelodi Sundowns beat Free State Stars 2-1 to stay on the tail of Premier League leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Mamelodi Sundowns stayed on the tail of Premier League leaders Kaizer Chiefs with a comfortable 2-1 win over struggling Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The win moved the Brazilians to within three points of Amakhosi, but they have played one extra game and have some way to go before putting the heat on the defending champions.
Sundowns led 2-0 at half-time and maintained their two-goal advantage until the last minute of additional time.
Stars' Moeketsi Sekola produced the goal of the game with a 30m pile-driver that gave goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands little chance. The whistle blew for full-time shortly after the strike, and left Stars languishing in 14th position in the log and facing the spectre of possible relegation.
The Free State side trailed as early as the 15th minute through a classy strike from Liberian international Anthony Laffor, but enjoyed territorial advantage and greater possession in both halves.
Their downfall was some woeful finishing, with Stars unable to field speedy striker Richard Henyekane.
Henyekane scored all his team's three goals in the stunning 3-1 away win over Wits on Saturday, but he is on loan to Stars from Sundowns.
High and wide
A condition of the agreement between the two clubs was that he does not play against the Brazilians. Without Henyekane, Stars rarely troubled Sundowns goalkeeper Sandilands as shots went high and wide of the posts until Sekola's late bolt out of the blue.
"Of course it is a blow having to play without a striker of Henyekane's ability," said recently-appointed Stars' coach Kinnah Phiri. "Especially when his confidence is at such a high level after scoring a hat-trick but I thought we were still a little unlucky to lose with shaky defending assisting Sundowns for both their goals."
The Brazilians completed their two-goal advantage in the 42nd minute when Togolese international Dove Wome ran onto a clinical pass from Esrom Nyandoro and placed the ball past Stars' Ghanaian international Daniel Agyei, back in goal after a recent hernia operation.
But Wome, who was also back in action after a lengthy absence, had little time to enjoy his opportunist goal, limping off five minutes after the interval to be replaced by Bryce Moon.
Sundowns spent most of the second half in second gear, content to hold onto their lead as Stars' fight-back came too late. – Sapa