Sundowns down Ajax in a thriller
Mamelodi Sundowns reduced their gap at the summit to six points when they beat Ajax Cape Town 3-2 in the Absa Premiership thrilling match at the Loftus Stadium on Saturday night.
It was match that had five penalties awarded by referee Victor Gomes, two of them missed while three were successful. Thabo Nthethe, Katlego Mashego, and Antony Laffor were on target for the Brazilians, while Nathan Paulse and Lance Davids scored for the Urban Warriors.
The win for Sundowns sends them to 34 points from 17 matches, and six points behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs who have played one more game than second-placed Sundowns. Ajax Cape Town, who meet Sundowns this coming Friday in a first-round of the Nedbank Cup, are 10th on the log with 22 points from 18 matches.
The home side started the brighter of the two sides, and they almost opened the scoring when Bryce Moon’s delivery from the right connected with Hlompho Kekana in the area who forced a save from Anssi Jaakkola from close range after 16 minutes. Two minutes later the home side were awarded a penalty when Thulane Hlatshwayo pushed Teko Modise in the area.
The former Bafana Bafana international stepped-up himself and saw his spot kick well saved by Anssi Jaakkola who dived low to his right, and it was good save from the Finnish goalkeeper. But Teko Modise made up his earlier miss when he assisted the opening goal in the 27th minute.
A swinging cross by the former Orlando Pirates man found Thabo Nthethe in the mix inside the box and the centre-back guided a free-header off the goalkeeper and into the net, 1-0.
Then five minutes later the referee was left with no choice but to award the host another penalty when Granwald Scott hauled down Bongani Zungu in the area. Katlego Mashego made no mistake from 12-yards and put the ball in the bottom corner and beyond the reach of fully stretched Anssi Jaakkola, 2-0.
The Brazilians almost made it three nil in the 34th minute when Bongani Zungu’ left footed shot from just outside the area hit the upright, before skipper Alje Schut headed over the from close range after a clever cross by Elias Pelembe three minutes before the break.
As Sundowns looked to be heading to the break with a two goal cushion, referee Victor Gomes changed both teams half-time team talk when he awarded a third penalty of the match to Ajax Cape Town after a hand ball by Alje Schut in the area. Striker Nathan Paulse stepped-up and sent Kennedy Mweene the wrong way, 2-1.
That penalty was the last one for the opening half but not the last one for the match as the man in charge awarded Mamelodi Sundowns their third penalty of the match when Granwald Scott handled the ball in the area in the 55th minute.
Katlego Mashego had a chance to convert his second spot-kick of the match and register a brace but it wasn’t to be as the former SuperSport United striker blasted his penalty against the underside of the crossbar, much to the delight of the visitors.
The visiting coach Ian Taylor made two attacking changes bringing on Bantu Mzwakali and Eleazar Rodgers in the space of Tashreeq Morris and Nathan Paulse in the hour mark, while Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane sent on Liberian striker Antony Laffor in the space of Katlego Mashego in the 69th minutes.
The substitution that made the mark was the one made by the home side as Antony Laffor put the result beyond doubt when he headed past Anssi Jaakkola from a corner-kick by Elias Pelembe fifteen minutes from time, 3-1.
The third goal assister Elias Pelembe should have made it four but the Mozambican’ first-time effort from inside the area unmarked when whisker wide after a cross from the left by Mzikayile Mashaba in the 85th minutes, before the referee Victor Gomes awarded the fifth and the last penalty of the night to Ajax Cape Town in the optional time.
Late substitute Lance Davids converted from the spot-kick and made it 3-2, but it wasn’t enough as the Brazilians register their third straight win.