Billiat rescues a point for Sundowns

Khama Billiat scored an injury-time goal to see Mamelodi Sundowns salvage a 2-2 draw against Maritzburg United at Loftus Stadium on Friday evening.

The result, which sees the Brazilians’ winless streak stretch to three matches and ends a five-game losing streak for the Team of Choice, saw the visitors come from behind to lead 2-1 thanks to a superb counter attacking display and ensures that Kaizer Chiefs will end 2013 atop the Absa Premiership regardless of their result against AmaZulu on Sunday.

An early goal from Katlego Mashego put the hosts ahead, but Maritzburg scored two goals from their only two attempts on target to put themselves within touching distance of a shock win, but Billiat’s late intervention saw the spoils shared.

Sundowns broke the deadlock just 10 minutes into the game. Elias Pelembe, making his first league start of the season, was presented with a clear sight of goal in the penalty area, but he unselfishly opted for a pass to Katlego Mashego, who was able to easily beat Shu-Aib Walters from close range to make it 1-0.

The Brazilians suffered an injury blow midway through the first half when defender Rashid Sumaila appeared to tweak a hamstring in a seemingly innocuous incident, allowing Wayne Arendse to come off the bench to replace the Ghanaian.

On 28 minutes Dove Wome almost doubled the hosts’ advantage with a quick turn and shot from the edge of the penalty area, but goalkeeper Walters came up with an excellent save to turn the ball away for a corner kick.

Six minutes later Sundowns were awarded a penalty after Mohammed Awal tripped up Khama Billiat just inside the box. Mashego took the spot kick but was denied by another fine save from Walters.

Just moments later, in the 35th minute, Maritzburg punished ‘Downs for the penalty miss and levelled the game at 1-1. Thamsanqa Mkhize provided an inch-perfect cross from the right flank and Orlando Smeekes arrived unmarked to score a header with the visitors’ first attempt on goal.

Seven minutes into the second half Sundowns had a great chance to reclaim the lead as Billiat was presented with only the ‘keeper to beat from just inside the box, but he shot wide of the mark, much to coach Pitso Mosimane’s frustration.

And the Team of Choice soon scored a second goal to take the lead very much against the run of play. A Ruben Cloete free kick was touched toward goal by Mario Booysen – the ball struck the post, rebounded and went into the back of the net off the head of a diving Kennedy Mweene. Booysen was credited with the goal, but it could yet be changed to an own goal from the ‘keeper.

Just over 10 minutes later Sundowns defender Alje Schut must have thought he had scored an equaliser when he powered a header on target from a corner kick, but Walters pulled off a superb save to keep his team in front.

However, there was nothing Walters could do to keep out a low drive from Billiat two minutes into extra time, with the Zimbabwean taking advantage as Sundowns piled on so much pressure in attack that they were bound to find an equaliser eventually.

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Mashego 10’, Billiat 90+2’)

Maritzburg United (1) 2 (Smeekes 35’, M. Booysen 71’)

Teams:

Sundowns: Mweene, Moon, Sumaila (Arendse 24’), Schut, Masenamela, Shongwe, Modise, Wome (Mphela 57’), Pelembe, Billiat, Mashego (Moriri 72’)

Maritzburg: Walters, D. Booysen, M. Booysen, Awal, Cloete, Smeekes (Zulu 84’), De Jongh, Mkhize, Mathuka, Shandu (Isaacks 65’), Sekotlong (Nkosi 61’)