Sundowns up to second with Chippa win

Mamelodi Sundowns have shifted back into second place on the Absa Premiership log following a comfortable 3-0 win over Chippa United at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Goals from Nicholus Lukhubeni, Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi secured the result, which saw the Brazilians shift up one place on the table and close the gap to leaders Kaizer Chiefs to seven points. The Chilli Boys, meanwhile, remain just two points above the relegation playoff spot and ended this game with 10 men.

Sundowns got off to a flyer, with youngster Nicholus Lukhubeni scoring his first senior goal in the second minute. The right-back intercepted a ball near the centre-line and proceeded to power straight throw the middle of Chippa’s defence before sending a low, left-footed shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.

‘Downs were running riot in the early minutes and just before the quarter hour mark they almost doubled their lead, with Gaston Sirino sending a sensational long-range attempt onto the crossbar, while the rebound was fired just wide by Lebohang Maboe.

Maboe himself hit the crossbar with another fearsome strike 10 minutes later, with Chippa struggling to contain a flood of yellow players streaming forward at every opportunity. In fact, the visitors made a tactical switch before the half-hour mark, with Thabo Rakhale replacing Meshack Maphangule.

Despite the change, the Chilli Boys’ defence continued to be bombarded. Yet Sundowns missed out on several good chances to extend their advantage and would have been disappointed to head into the halftime break with only a 1-0 lead to show for their efforts. The only real threat from Chippa throughout the first half was a freak cross-shot from Silas Maziya which drifted beyond the reach of Denis Onyango and struck the far post.

Chances continued to flow for ‘Downs in the early minutes of the second half, the most notable of which saw Hlompho Kekana smash a shot on target in the 52nd minute, but Mothwa had the strength to turn the effort away from danger.

The Brazilians finally claimed a second goal in the 58th minute, with Themba Zwane netting from a penalty. The spot kick was awarded for a clumsy foul from Sandile Mthethwa, who was sent off in the aftermath of the incident, presumably for protesting the decision too vociferously.

It was soon 3-0, with Sirino showing great selflessness when faced with only the goalkeeper to beat, as he squared for Sibusiso Vilakazi to score a tap-in and extend the home side’s advantage in the 64th minute.

The hosts eased off in the final quarter hour and cruised to victory, though they still created several chances with which they should have added to the score line. Sundowns will be back in Premiership action on Wednesday 19 February with a match at home to Bloemfontein Celtic, while Chippa’s next league clash is at home to AmaZulu on 29 February.

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 3 (Lukhubeni 2’, Zwane 58’ pen, Vilakazi 64’)

Chippa United 0

Sundowns: Onyango (Mweene 75’), Lukhubeni, Nascimento, Madisha, Lebusa, Maboe (Ali Meza 68’), Jali, Kekana, Zwane (Mkhulise 69’), Vilakazi, Sirino

Chippa: Mothwa, Modisane, Mthethwa, K. Moyo, Malepe, Komane, Mahola, Maziya (Sekotlong 62’), Maphangule (Rakhale 29’), Gamildien (Lentjies 62’), Kwem