Sundowns march on with win against struggling Baroka

Sundowns march on with win against struggling Baroka

Mamelodi Sundowns have gone 24 matches unbeaten and stretched their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership to 15 points after they beat Baroka 2-1 at Loftus on Tuesday.

The gap may be slightly reduced by Orlando Pirates, who kicked off in the late match on Tuesday against Swallows, but that won’t bother the Sundowns coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena.

These are worrying times for Baroka as they remain at the bottom of the standings and face a mountain to climb to revive their campaign in which they have two wins from 12 starts.

Baroka have recorded four losses and two draws during their last six matches and will be under pressure to salvage something in their remaining two matches of the year against Stellenbosch and Royal AM.

Sundowns will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run against Pirates, AmaZulu and Marumo Gallants before the festive season break.

Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane surprisingly started the match without striker Evidence Makgopa and midfielder Nhlanhla Mgaga who were named on the bench.

Sundowns coaches Mngqithi, Komphela and Mokwena made two changes to the team that beat SuperSport United 1-0 in the Tshwane derby on Saturday.

On-form Andile Jali and Kermit Erasmus started in the places of Neo Maema and Thabiso Kutumela who were ruled out due to injuries.

The first real chance of the match was for the visitors, but a snap shot by attacker Sekela Sithole was saved by Denis Onyango after they found their way into the Sundowns danger area.

After 22 minutes, Sundowns suffered a huge blow when striker Peter Shalulile was stretchered off the field with possible concussion after he collided with a Baroka defender in an aerial duel.

Shalulile was replaced by Pavol Šafranko and the Slovakian attacker was sacrificed for defender Ricardo Nascimento late in the second half as Mngqithi, Komphela and Mokwena reinforced their defence.

Baroka had another good chance of opening the scoring just before the half-hour mark, but Richard Mbulu, who was unmarked in the box, blasted his shot over the crossbar.

In one of Sundowns' clear-cut chances, Sphelele Mkhulise was released into the box by Thapelo Morena, but his shot was stopped by Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.

The first half ended in dramatic fashion as Erasmus was given his marching orders by referee Akhona Makalima, but Sundowns reacted immediately with the opener through Rivaldo Coetzee.

The goal, the third of Coetzee’s career, was the last kick of the half and came after Masuluke failed to connect with Lyle Lakay’s free-kick.

Baroka equalised after 71 minutes through Mbulu who dribbled past De Reuck inside the box before beating Onyango with a well-drilled low shot on the near post.

The Brazilians settled the match eight minutes from time when Themba Zwane found the back of the net after he received the ball from Morena on the edge of the box.