Downs draw level with Pirates

Mamelodi Sundowns will not be giving up their Absa Premiership title without a fight, having claimed a crucial 2-1 away win over Black Leopards in a catch-up match played at Thohoyandou Stadium on Tuesday night.

Goals from Gaston Sirino and Tebogo Langerman saw the Brazilians draw level with Orlando Pirates at the top of the log – only a superior goal difference (+17 to +13) sees the Soweto side remain in first place with two rounds of the season remaining.

Lidoda Duvha, meanwhile, remain in 14th place – just one position and two points above the relegation playoff berth. Worryingly for the Limpopo side, they have easily the worst goal difference of any team in the division.

Leopards enjoyed the first clear chance of the match, with Tshwarelo Bereng firing off a good shot from the edge of the penalty area which was well saved by Denis Onyango in the 19th minute.

Sundowns then began to take control of the game and nearly had an opening for Tebogo Langerman, who was mere inches away from getting on the end of a great diagonal ball from Rivaldo Coetzee.

A brilliant piece of anticipation put ‘Downs in the lead on 27 minutes: Jean Munganga looked to send a looping header back to his goalkeeper, but Gaston Sirino read the defender’s intention and sprinted onto the ball before providing an ice-cool first-time finish past King Ndlovu for 1-0.

Leopards almost came up with an equaliser four minutes before the end of regulation time in the first half, but Onyango made a great save from a Robert Ngambi header to ensure the Brazilians led 1-0 at the interval.

The second half saw the teams exchange half chances before Sundowns doubled their advantage in the 68th minute. A fine passing move put Thapelo Morena into space down the right, he provided a teasing cross and Langerman arrived late at the far post to turn home the ball.

Leopards were inches away from pulling a goal back in the 77th minute when a great attack of their own ended with a scuffed shot from Karabo Tshepe, but his effort was saved on the goal line by Mosa Lebusa, before Anele Ncongca effected a clearance.

The home side pulled a goal back in injury time when Onyango couldn’t hold onto a low cross from the right flank and substitute Tumelo Khutlang netted from close range, but it proved no more than a consolation.

Leopards will be back in Premiership action on Saturday when they play away to AmaZulu at the King Zwelithini Stadium, while Sundowns’ CAF Champions League commitments means they will play another catch-up match next week Tuesday at home to Golden Arrows.

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Khutlang 90+2’)

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Sirino 27’, Langerman 68’)

Leopards: K. Ndlovu, Mokoena, Munganga, Katjiukua, Zulu, Mudau, Ngambi, Mahangwahaya (Khutlang 38’), Hlongwane (Tshepe 73’), Bereng, Musonda (T. Ndlovu 58’)

Sundowns: Onyango, Ngcongca, Arendse, Lebusa, Coetzee, Langerman, Kekana (Mahlambi 86’), Zwane (Lakay 74’), Morena, Vilakazi, Sirino (Tade 76’)