Sundowns crush Celtic to extend lead

Mamelodi Sundowns have opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the Absa Premiership log after they defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 4-1 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

A sixth win from a streak of seven unbeaten matches (courtesy of goals from Thokozani Sekotlong, Tiyani Mabunda, Percy Tau and Themba Zwane sees the Brazilians move to 28 points at the summit, seven clear of second-placed Cape Town City. Phunya Sele Sele drop one spot to sixth on 19 points.

Sundowns enjoyed the early dominance in the match, though they were nearly stunned in the sixth minute when Celtic’s Victor Letsoalo let fly with the left foot and clipped the top of the crossbar.

On 19 minutes it was the hosts’ turn to be denied by the woodwork, as Percy Tau got a shot away from just inside the penalty area, but watched in frustration as the ball rebounded to safety off the inside of the post.

The attacking pressure built up by ‘Downs saw Celtic’s Tshepo Rikhotso and goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb booked for separate incidents, but the visitors remained a threat in attack and Letsoalo had another near miss by stabbing a shot just off target on 39 minutes.

The Brazilians claimed the lead less than two minutes into the second half, as Thokozani Sekotlong took advantage of some poor marking at a corner kick to score with a superb diving header.

And the home crowd didn’t have to wait long for the second goal to arrive: on 54 minutes Tiyani Mabunda played a one-two with Oupa Manyisa before firing home a shot from the ‘D’ of Celtic’s penalty area, giving Tignyemb no chance.

Phunya Sele Sele hit back in the 63rd minute, as substitute Kabelo Mahlasela almost scored a superb solo goal, only to see his chip over Denis Onyango rebound off the post - yet left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai was on hand to steer home the rebound and halve the deficit.

Yet any thoughts Celtic had of a comeback went up in smoke on 75 minutes when Themba Zwane played a superb pass to put Percy Tau in on goal - the young striker made no mistake one-on-one with the ‘keeper and made it 3-1 to ‘Downs.

Zwane went from provider to scorer in the 88th minute when he ran onto a fine pass from Yannick Zakri before guiding a shot beyond Tignyemb to make it 4-1 and wrap up a great afternoon for the Tshwane giants.

Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 4 (Sekotlong 47’, Mabunda 54’, Tau 75’, Zwane 88’)
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 1 (Pfumbidzai 63’)

Sundowns: Onyango, Morena, Arendse, Madisha, Hachi, Manyisa, Kekana (Ngcongca 82’), Mabunda, T. Zwane, Sekotlong (Zakri 65’), Tau (Lebese 86’)

Celtic: Tignyemb, Ndengane, Rikhotso, Pfumbidzai, Lubisi, Motshegwa, Baloyi, Phalane (Mahlasela 58’), Hotto, Mabena (Nyundu 77’), Letsoalo (Jembula 85’)