Cape Town – In the first Absa Premiership fixture of the new year, Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Lebohang Maboe capitalised on a Virgil Vries goalkeeping error to give Pitso Mosimane’s charges a vital 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs.
The action began at a frenetic pace though it was Sundowns who drew first blood as Anthony Laffor showed his skill and top class pedigree to make Chiefs pay.
The Liberia star cut inside from the right before playing a smart one-two with Gaston Sirino. Willard Katsande came charging across and Laffor deftly skipped the ball past him before finishing calmly beyond a flat-footed Virgil Vries.
However, Chiefs showed character and a real composure in their play as they drew level inside the first 15 minutes.
Hendrick Ekstein showed great skill to bamboozle Thapelo Moreno, who brought down the diminutive attacker on the right wing. Subsequently, Khama Billiat’s free-kick saw Jeremy Brockie fluff his clearance at the near post before the ball deflected to Katsande at the far post.
The destroyer showed a striker’s eye for goal as he re-directed a diving header into the back of the net beyond Kennedy Mweene.
Soon afterwards, Laffor had a great chance to complete his brace after he got on the end of Lebohang Maboe’s low cross across the area. Yet, Chiefs were fortunate as they cleared the Liberian’s strike off the line with Vries out of position.
There was little other notable action in the first half as both teams seemed to tire in the searing heat at FNB Stadium.
After the break it was once again the Glamour Boys who came out stronger and they would miss a golden opportunity to take the lead.
Substitute Bernard Parker, who had been brought on for Ekstein at half-time, was unmarked in the six-yard box but somehow he headed wide from a corner from the left.
The subdued Brazilians again allowed another chance soon afterwards as Parker broke free down the right hand side. His cross picked out Billiat near the penalty area but his first time strike sailed well over the bar.
Downs were creating virtually nothing and once again the lively Parker was the villain as he missed another header at the near post, when a firmer touch would have guaranteed a goal with Mweene stranded.
Pitso Mosimane’s men were not at the races and were again fortunate not to concede as Leo Castro broke into the box, before finding an on-rushing Kabelo Mahlasela who blazed over from around 10 yards out.
In the final 10 minutes a shocking mistake from Virgil Vries in goal handed all three points to the away outfit. Lyle Lakay hit a raking long ball down the field to which the keeper came racing out to intercept.
He misjudged the pace of the ball and it bounced over his head allowing Maboe to run in and convert from close range. There were no further alarms as Sundowns collected a valuable three points in the league title race.