Sundowns title hopes suffer a setback after derby defeat

Ghampani Lungu (r) celebrates goal with teammate Thabo Mnyamane of Supersport United during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 17 April 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Ghampani Lungu (r) celebrates goal with teammate Thabo Mnyamane of Supersport United during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 17 April 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The defeat leaves what is currently an injury-hit Sundowns six points behind league leaders Orlando Pirates

It was a frustrating night for Mamelodi Sundowns at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday as they ended up losing 2-0 to SuperSport United in what was for the most part an evenly-balanced Tshwane derby.

It was to SuperSport’s credit that they took the chances that came their way – a first half header from Grant Kekana and a second strike by Zambian striker Ghampani Lungu, while Pitso Mosimane’s side, who came into the game on the back of their Champions League triumph over Al Ahly, paid the price for not utilising their opportunities.

The defeat leaves what is currently an injury-hit Sundowns six points behind league leaders Orlando Pirates, although they still have two matches in hand on the Soweto team.

Sundowns made a bright start to the evening and had early chances, all of them falling the way of Emiliano Tade, but his first couple of efforts were comfortably saved by Ronwen Williams, before the Argentine striker dragged a third shot wide from a good position in the box.

Apart from an Aubrey Modiba shot on 15 minutes which was saved by Kennedy Mweene, SuperSport had not posed much of a threat in the opposition box.

But it was Matsatsantsa who were to draw first blood, in the 30th minute, when Kekana arched his body well before directing a header from a Modiba corner into the bottom corner of the net.

Sundowns tried to rally from the setback, but apart from a couple of dangerous runs from Phakamani Mahlambi, which ultimately came to nothing, and a miscued effort from Themba Zwane, an equaliser looked unlikely.

The Brazilians continued to ask questions of the SuperSport defence after the interval, but they could find no way through as Mahlambi had a shot blocked by Dean Furman and Tade sent a header straight at Williams, who also got behind a long range effort from Hlompho Kekana on 66 minutes.

At the other end, Mweene did well to ensure his team didn’t go a further goal behind when he reacted sharply to get down and keep out a stinging angled volley from Bradley Grobler.

Sundowns remained on top, pushing and probing for openings. But when SuperSport broke on the counter and Masandawana failed to clear a 79th minute corner, Grobler laid the ball on for Lungu, who scored his first goal for the club with a shot from eight yards out into the top corner.

The defending league champions did have a couple of openingsk, but neither Jeremy Brockie’s shot nor a Ricardo Nascimento header overly troubled Williams as the visiting team held on for victory without much of a sweat.

The win moves SuperSport up to fourth position, on 43 points, one point behind Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, and seven behind Pirates.

 

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