10-man Sundowns snatch win against Leopards

Ten-man Mamelodi Sundowns claimed a dramatic 2-1 win away to Black Leopards in a DStv Premiership match at Thohoyandou Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Peter Shalulile scored a brace of goals – including a winner deep into injury time when his side was a man down – as the Brazilians ended a run of three draws and opened up a three-point lead at the top of the log over nearest chasers SuperSport United and Swallows FC.

Lidoda Duvha, meanwhile, remain in the relegation playoff spot after suffering an eighth loss of the season.

Sundowns created the first clear chance in just the second minute, with Peter Shalulile picking up a loose ball in the box, turning and getting away a quick shot, but his effort flashed just over the crossbar.

Leopards offered relatively little in attack through the first half, though Sibusiso Khumalo was close to an opener in the 12th minute with a low cross/shot through a crowded penalty area which rolled just wide of goalkeeper Denis Onyango’s left-hand upright.

The closest either side came to a goal in the first half was a 17th-minute move from Sundowns which saw Kermit Erasmus play a teasing cross from the right flank and Shalulile directed a header onto the far post – with Leopards ‘keeper King Ndlovu left helpless to intervene.

Leopards could have gone into the break ahead after they created a good chance for Rodney Ramagalela in injury time, but the former ‘Downs man saw his goal-bound shot blocked by young defender Siphesihle Mkhize.

Lidoda Duvha got off to the perfect start in the second half, going 1-0 up within a minute of the restart. Khumalo played another dangerous cross/shot from the left and this time Ovidy Karuru was on hand to direct the ball into the net from close range.

Leopards suffered an injury blow a few minutes later when Lifa Hlongwane came off worse in a sickening collision of heads with teammate Sibongiseni Mthethwa, necessitating the withdrawal of both players. Hlongwane, in fact, was taken off the field in an ambulance after a lengthy delay for on-field treatment.

Sundowns hit back to level the game in the 64th minute: substitute Gaston Sirino played a good low cross from the right to find Shalulile and the Namibian was initially denied by a block from defender Tebogo Makobela, but the loose ball sat up nicely for the Namibian to acrobatically volley home for 1-1.

Just two minutes later the Brazilians were reduced to 10 men, with Mothobi Mvala shown a straight red card for pulling back Ramagalela when the attacker was running clean through on goal.

Leopards almost immediately capitalised on their numerical advantage, with Karuru guilty of missing a virtual open goal with a header, before Rodrick Kabwe saw his fierce low shot well saved by Onyango.

On 71 and 78 minutes it was Ndlovu’s turn for heroics at the other end of the field, making fine saves to deny Sirino and Zwane respectively, as Sundowns proved that they remained a serious goal threat even with 10 men.

A draw seemed the likely result, but with 10 minutes of injury time there was always the chance of late drama, and it was Sundowns who capitalised. Former Leopards player Lesedi Kapinga fired off a shot which was controlled by Shalulile before he fired home from just a few metres out to clinch all three points for the visitors.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this weekend, with Leopards at home to TS Galaxy on Saturday, 30 January, and Sundowns at home to Chippa United the following afternoon.

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Karuru 46’)
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Shalulile 64’ 90+5’)

Leopards: K. Ndlovu, Makobela, Masia, Nthatheni, Khumalo, Mthethwa (Mokoena 58’), Kabwe (Ononogbu 87’), Maluleke (Abubakar 82’), Karuru, Hlongwane (Makgetlwa 59), Ramagalela

Sundowns: D. Onyango, Mkhize (Sirino 54’), Lebusa, Kekana, Langerman, Maboe, Mvala, Maluleke (Mkhulise 84’), Zwane (Kapinga 84’), Erasmus (Jali 72’), Shalulile.