Mamelodi Sundowns cruised to a 3-0 victory over an industrious Swallows side in their DStv Premiership clash on Sunday afternoon.
CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns hardly raised a sweat as they cantered to a 3-0 win over an industrious Swallows side in their DStv Premiership match at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, on Sunday evening, after leading 1-0 at halftime.
There were loads of enterprise and endeavour from Swallows, but it was not enough to crack Sundowns’ stubborn defence, which has yet to concede a Premiership goal this season.
Sundowns’ win allowed them to open a four-point lead at the top standings. Swallows remain rooted in 14th place.
There was nothing earth-shattering from the champions in the first half, but as always, they capitalise on scoring opportunities better than any other team in the Premier Soccer League. As a result, they ended the first half with a 1-0 lead after a glancing header from Slovakian international Pavol Šafranko drifted past goalkeeper Sanele Tshabalala and into the Swallows goals.
There was nothing to suggest that Swallows was a side languishing at the foot end of the standings (judging by the way they started the game and then fashioned several scoring opportunities in the ensuing play. After 27 minutes, they had already forced five corners, but their set-piece play was rank poor, and Sundowns easily dealt with the threat.
In stark contrast, Sundowns used the set-piece as a platform for the first goal, which materialised on the half-hour mark. Šafranko rose above the Swallows defence to open the score from Lyle Lakay’s second corner.
Moments before this goal, striker Thabiso Kutumela, who was playing out on the right in the side’s 3-4-3 formation, struck the woodwork twice in quick succession.
In the 39th minute, the spotlight fell on referee Thando Ndzandzeka and Sundowns coach Steve Komphela, who was warned about moving beyond the team’s technical area adjacent to the pitch. Komphela seemed perplexed when he was yellow-carded. After Ndzandzeka beckoned him to come closer, possibly for admonishing, he was shown a red card. Komphela was banished to the stands and will be banned for Sundowns’ next two matches.
The Swallows marksman Keletso Makgalwa and Khethukuthula Ndlovu who were out wide on the flanks in the 4-3-3 were proving a constant threat when setting off on penetrative runs. They shook off their markers on occasions but were held out from the central striking zone.
However, both Makgalwa and Ndlovu tested the Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango after they stalked into central positions and managed parting shots.
When the second-half play started there seemed to be a distinct lack of urgency in the Sundowns ranks and in the first 20 minutes Swallows managed several sorties into the Sundowns half. Again, they lacked the finishing touch when opportunities surfaced in the opposition goalmouth. All too often Swallows’ players were guilty of looking for support when play was crying out for them to pull the trigger.
Against the run of play, Sundowns went further ahead after a telling counter-attack. Substitute Neo Maema rounded off superbly to give the log-leaders a commanding 2-0 lead, 12 minutes from the end.
In the final minute, Namibian Peter Shalulile scored Sundowns’ third goal to wrap up the team’s 3-0 romp.