Sundowns too good for Stars
Mamelodi Sundowns comfortably swept Free State Stars aside 2-0 in a Premiership victory at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
Strikes in each half by Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat secured the Brazilians’ second consecutive win and sixth overall in the league this season.
The victory catapulted them to 23 points on the table, while for Stars it was their eighth loss that left them with 14 points.
Sundowns midfield enforcer Hlompho Kekana began to graft early on in the encounter as he aimed to pin Stars into their own half. In the fifth minute, the industrious Kekana nicked a loose ball from Katlego Mashego but his overzealous tackle resulted in a foul. Punch Masenamela afforded the Pretoria heavyweight width on the flanks with his piercing dashes.
In the eighth minute, the wingback curled in a cross into a dangerous area in the box that had no beneficiary.
Stars captain Paulos Masehe tried to lead by example as he battled the opposition fearlessly.
Sundowns were gaining the advantage over their rivals and came within inches of opening the scoring through Bongani Zungu.
In the tenth minute, the skillful midfielder broke free of the Stars defence and unleashed a shot that blasted into the grandstands. Kekana attacked the Stars defence aggressively from the onset and in the 13th minute it was his pass that led to the goal by Malajila.
The Brazilians seemingly emboldened by their goal, intensified their attack and Billiat nearly doubled their lead two minutes after scoring.
Stars goalkeeper Bruce Mtshali watched on with relief as Billiat’s shot wobbled away from the target. Moeketsi Sekola wanted to be the hero for the visitors after helping mount some pressure. Sekola received a quick pass from Tiyani Mabunda but shot directly at Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Danny Venter combined with teammate Richard Henyekane as the Sundowns defence was retreating towards their own goal. But Alje Schut stopped the attack in its tracks with a timely tackle.
Sundowns could have gone into the half-time break at least three goals ahead after a one-sided affair at home.
In the second half, Stars had a passage of play that rattled Sundowns and had every player behind the ball defending the threat. Anthony Laffor, who had replaced Malajila earlier in the first-half, made the most of the rare game-time.
But soon the hard-running forward ran out of steam as he lacked the fitness to keep up with the pace of the clash. Henyekane, playing against the team that discarded him a couple of seasons ago, pounced on a defensive mistake by Thabo Nthethe in the 52nd minute.
But the striker rushed his attempt at goal which in the end was a tame effort scooped-up by Mweene. Billiat was in scintillating form and soon was rewarded with a goal after an assist from Teko Modise in the 62nd minute.
Stars were still searching for answers when Sundowns caught them on the counter with a second goal. Mashego was the only spark in the Stars attack late in the game.
In the 76th minute he laid the ball off to Sekola but the latter lost control of the ball—a miscue that summed up the night for the visitors..