Substitute Affonso sinks Highlands to send Downs second

A 91st minute goal from debutant Mauricio Affonso handed Mamelodi Sundowns a slender 1-0 win over Highlands Park in an Absa Premiership match at Loftus Stadium on Wednesday night.

The victory sees the Brazilians close the gap on league leaders Kaizer Chiefs to only two points. The Amakhosi are on 19 points while ‘Downs are on 17 points, but the Tshwane club has played a game less.

Highlands, on the other hand, dropped down to sixth place on the league table with 11 points from seven matches.

On the night, though, the visitors started the better of the two teams and came close to taking the lead in the fifth minute when Mothobi Mvala let fly from long range, but he saw his thunderous effort strike the woodwork.

A minute later Thapelo Morena was gifted a great opportunity to give Sundowns the lead when he broke through on goal, but he failed to beat the keeper in a one-on-one.

On the half hour mark the Highlands keeper was at his best yet again, this time producing a fantastic acrobatic save to deny Themba Zwane from the edge of the box.

The Brazilians persisted with their attack after that but were unable to break the deadlock before the halftime whistle.

Sundowns continued to pile on the pressure after the break, but lacked the finishing touch in the final third which prompted coach Pitso Mosimane to introduce debutant Mauricio Affonso just after the hour mark.

And what a change it proved to be with the new Sundowns man creating a scoring chance for Morena in the 66th minute, but the latter could only succeed in strike the crossbar from close range.

The Brazilians looked frustrated in front of goal, but super-sub Affonso proved the difference on the night with a smashing left-footed shot from the edge of the box finding the corner of the net in the 91st minute to hand them a 1-0 win.

Sundowns (0) 1 (Affonso 91’)

Highlands (0) 0