JOHANNESBURG, January 6 – A moment of misjudgement from Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Virgil Vries 10 minutes from time at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon enabled Mamelodi Sundowns to claim a 2-1 league win.
Masandawana took an early first-half lead through Anthony Laffor, which was cancelled out shortly afterwards by Willard Katsande, before Lebohang Maboe popped up to grab an 81st-minute winner in a game in which Chiefs had arguably played well enough to have at least picked up a point.
Sundowns – still unbeaten in the Premiership this season – couldn’t have asked for a better start as they scored after only two minutes played when Laffor played a clever one-two around the corner with Gaston Sirino, before beating Katsande to the ball and then poking a shot past Vries from close range.
The advantage, however, was short-lived as Amakhosi levelled up the game in the 13th minute, Katsande stooping in at the far post with a well-taken header after Khama Billiat’s free-kick had been deflected across the goalmouth by Downs attacker Jeremy Brockie.
Laffor had the chance to restore the Brazilians’ lead seven minutes later when he was teed up by Maboe, but Amakhosi defender Mario Booysen had done well to backtrack and clear the shot off the line.
At the other end, Katsande also had another good chance, but from 10 yards out, he fired over the bar from a corner.
That proved to be it for first half chances, in what was generally a tightly-contested and tense opening 45 minutes, with the hot overhead conditions perhaps also contributing to the lack of goalmouth action.
Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp saw the need to change things up and made two substitutions at halftime, as Bernard Parker came on for Hendrick Ekstein, and Teenage Hadebe replaced Godfrey Walusimbi.
Parker nearly made the desired impact when he got on the end of a great cross from George Maluleka in the 50th minute, but the former Bafana striker was to steer his header just wide.
The game remained edgy, with neither side dominating, although the Glamour Boys did have the better of the chances as Parker just failed to get a decisive touch on a Billiat free-kick before Kabelo Mahlasela blasted over from 12-yards out after being teed up by Leonardo Castro in the 73rd minute.
The Tshwane side though were never out the contest, and they sounded a warning with 10 minutes to play when Sirino curled a shot from the edge of the box inches wide of the far post.
The winner was to arrive moments later – in bizarre fashion: after Lyle Lakay’s searching long ball had drawn Vries off his line, the Chiefs keeper misjudged the bounce, and was only able to get a slight touch on the ball as it flew over his head, which allowed Maboe to slot into an empty net from a metre out.
Amakhosi were unable to muster any kind of a fight-back as coach Middendorp suffered his first defeat since returning to the club last month, while Sundowns move to within five points of log leaders Bidvest Wits, who play Free State Stars later on Saturday. (ANA)