Two late goals — the last in the final seconds of the game earned Mamelodi Sundowns a 2-1 win over city rivals in their Premiership Pretoria Derby at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night.
But defending champions United have only themselves to blame for the defeat. Leading 1-0 with minutes to play, United allowed Downs back into the game.
Downs looked shut out of the game until substitute Mabhuti Khenyeza equalised four minutes from time. Then, sensing blood, Downs went for the jugular. It was another super sub Papi Zothwane that tore the heart out of United with a goal in the final minute of optional time that gave Downs their unlikely 2-1 win and kept their perfect start to the season intact.
Downs have now won all three league matches while United have won one and lost two so far.
It was no classic and on the night neither side showed much initiative.
There was little to enthuse over in a disappointing first 45 minutes in which both sides were cagey and both took a conservative approach.
Neither goalkeeper United’s Wayne Brown nor his Downs counterpart Calvin Marlin had much to do in the first half that never got out of neutral.
However, Marlin did have to pick the ball out of his net in the 35th minute when Dipsy Selolwane headed home a well-timed cross from Lyle Lakay to give the champions a 1-0 lead at the interval.
The most difficult shot that Englishman Brown had to deal with was a mistimed attempted clearance from Lemessa Fikru that hurtled goalwards but was well stopped by Brown in the 33rd minute.
Fikru shot wide in the fourth minute in an early United attack. Then the Ethiopian striker shot straight at Marlin after collecting a good cross from Anthony Laffor on 10 minutes.
Then United had what looked a lucky escape in the 17th minute when Fikru — back on defensive duties — appeared to handle an Elias Pelembe corner inside his penalty area. However, referee Jacob Frolick waved play on.
A chip from SuperSport midfielder Jabu Maluleke sailed over the Downs crossbar on 27 minutes as the champions tried to find some spark to their game.
After the goal, United suffered another big fright in the 42nd minute when defender David Kannemeyer came to the rescue by heading Pelembe’s shot off his goal line.
The Brazilians failed to show the urgency and rise to the occasion.
The start of the second half was scrappy. Downs’ powerfully built midfielder Franklin Cale, who made a number of good runs in the first half, did well to cut inside the United penalty area in the 55th minute. His disappointing cross was however easily intercepted by Brown.
Substitute Nyasha Mushekwi thought he had equalised in the 63rd minute when he chipped over Brown only to see SuperSport captain Bongani Khumalo scoop the ball off his goal line in a superb piece of cover defending.
Downs huffed-and-puffed but could not pull United down. Their leading goal scorer Katlego Mphela fired at Brown on 78 minutes as the home side belatedly tried to salvage something from the game.
United substitute Jose Pereira had a shot scrambled away from close range in the 83rd minute as the champions looked for a second
goal to kill off their rivals.
But Downs never gave up and were rewarded when Khenyeza slotted home in the 86th minute to earn Downs a hard-fought point.
Mphela should have wrapped up the game two minutes later but he fired fractionally wide when he had the United goal at his mercy.
Then Brown did well to stop another good effort form Mphela deep into injury time as Downs had United on the ropes.
The pressure paid off and with seconds remaining Zothwane pounced and slotted home the winner four minutes into stoppage time. – Sapa