In a performance full of drive and conviction by a rampaging Mamelodi Sundowns‚ a last-gasp goal by Peter Shalulile provided yet another win earned with championship quality by the defending titlists against Stellenbosch FC at Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday.
Sundowns won 2-1.
Stellenbosch deserve credit for making this a fist of a DStv Premiership game but they were up against a well-oiled machine that keeps rolling on unparalleled‚ with a dangerous attacker like Namibian ace Shalulile providing the spearhead.
Largely due to their vast Caf experience in the tough terrains of the Champions League‚ Sundowns‚ the team owned by new Confederation of African football president Patrice Motsepe‚ have mastered the art of handling pressure and managing a
They went a goal down shortly after the half-hour mark when Augustine Dimgba opened the scoring (33rd) but they were not rattled as they came back to score two goals through Gaston Sirino (50th) and Shalulile (94th).
Sundowns stuck to their guns despite the attacking performance of Stellenbosch‚ where the likes of Ashley du Preez‚ Leandro Mendieta and Dimgba asked some of the difficult questions.
With this vitally important win‚ Sundowns extended their lead at the top of the standings by four points though this was their first league outing in almost a month.
Sundowns have also extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 24 matches in a streak where they have won 17 matches and drawn seven‚ and they are currently on a four-match winning run in the league.
The last time they suffered defeat was during their first match of the season in September where they lost 1-0 to Bloemfontein Celtic in the opening round of the MTN8.
The loss to Celtic was the first match of the post-Pitso Mosimane coaching era and also the first for co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena.
Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker will be disappointed at the result as it robbed his team of an opportunity of going thee matches without defeat.
For Sundowns‚ however‚ this win has come at a cost as they will be without suspended Shalulile in their next match against Black Leopards on Sunday after he received his fourth yellow card.
They also appear to have lost key attacker Kermit Erasmus with what appeared a serious injury as he was replaced a few minutes shortly after he came on as a second-half substitute.
Stellenbosch opened the scoring when unmarked Dimbga collected a ball from Du Preez‚ turned and unleashed a powerful shot past Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
Sundowns equalised with a breathtaking team goal that resulted in Shalulile laying the ball into the path of unmarked Sirino‚ who placed his finish beyond the reach of Stellenbosch goalkeeper Sage Stephens.
Then‚ in the dying seconds‚ Shalulile headed home to earn the Brazilians this vital victory that keeps them in control at the top of the standings with a four-point advantage over joint second-placed Golden Arrows and Orlando Pirates.