CAPE TOWN, January 10 – Two quick-fire goals just before half-time saw Mamelodi Sundowns coming from behind to beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 in a league match at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday night.
With new Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral on the bench for the first time since his return to the club, the match proved to be a thrilling encounter played at a high tempo in front of a very good crowd.
But although Ajax gave a good account of themselves, they have now lost their last three league matches and are floundering in the relegation zone in 15th place.
The match got off to a flying start with Sundowns quickly on the front foot as Sibusiso Vilakazi side-footed wide from close range in the second minute, before Hlompho Kekana fired over the bar from range soon after.
But having been able to weather the initial storm, the Urban Warriors also began to look a threat and Sundowns keeper Denis Onyano was called into action on 11 minutes to keep out a curling effort from Fagrie Lakay.
And it was Lakay who was to draw first blood, running onto a quickly taken free kick and holding off Motjeka Madisha before expertly rolling the ball in at the far post with a low-angled shot after 25 minutes.
The setback stung ‘Downs into action and they came close to equalising through a Madisha header which flashed wide, before home keeper Jody February made two outstanding saves to keep out a sweetly-struck shot from Oupa Manyisa and an effort from Percy Tau.
A hand-ball in the box from home defender Isaac Nhlapo offered the Brazilians a way back into the game in the 37th minute, and it was accepted as their Brazil-born defender Ricardo Nascimento sent February the wrong way from the penalty spot; 1-1.
And just two minutes later, the Tshwane side found themselves in front for the first time when Vilakazi got a decisive touch to turn in Tau’s superb cross from close range in what turned out to be the winner.
The match continued to keep the lively crowd on their feet after the restart as Onyango bravely saved at the feet of Tashrique Morris in the 46th minute before Lakay whacked the rebound into the stands, while at the other end, Tau left Ajax defender Mario Booysen for dead before lifting a lob over the bar in the 55th minute.
Although the goal-scoring chances were to subside, the action remained fast-paced and end-to-end as both sides took their turns to attack.
In the end though, Masandawana were able to take the sting out of the game and play out the final 20 minutes in relative comfort as they ended a two-match losing streak while also extending their lead at the top of the standings to four points over Cape Town City.
African News Agency (ANA)