Sun. May 19th, 2019

Sundowns edge out 10-man Baroka to heat up title race

Ricardo Nascimento with Tiyani Mabunda of Mamelodi Sundowns celebration during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 game between Baroka FC and Mamelodi Sundowns at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane the on 20 April 2019 © Kabelo Leputu/BackpagePixMamelodi Sundowns closed the gap on Orlando Pirates with a hard-fought victory against Baroka at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.

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Mamelodi Sundowns remain in the hunt for the league title after beating Baroka 2-1 in the weekend’s only PSL fixture, which took place at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.

The defending champions went into the encounter six points behind the table-topping Orlando Pirates, and were itching to bounce back after a disappointing midweek result.

They were quick off the mark, signalling their intent as they enjoyed more possession in the opening moments of the game.

Sibusiso Vilakazi – back from a lengthy injury lay-off – could have marked his return with a goal in the tenth minute after being released by Lebogang Maboe, but his shot met an alert Elvis Chipezeze, who pulled off a terrific save.

The Zimbabwean international was called upon again shortly, this time denying Thapelo Morena, who started up front alongside Maboe.

A breakthrough for ‘Downs would come seven minutes from the break after Vilakazi was pushed in the box, resulting in a penalty which was calmly slotted by Ricardo Nascimento.

The visitors took the one-goal advantage to halftime, but Baroka would soon draw level after the break when Onkabetse Makgantai struck in the 52nd minute.

They would, however, enjoy level parity ever so briefly, with Themba Zwane restoring the Tshwane giant’s lead just four minutes later.

Despite conceding twice, Chipezeze continued to have an excellent game – blocking Zwane’s attempt at a second goal from point-blank range to keep Bakgakga in the hunt.

Their search for the equaliser was, however complicated by one of their own in Roderick Chinyengetere, who was given his marching orders in the 76th minute for foul on Hlompho Kekana, which saw the Sundowns skipper stretchered off and replaced by Oupa Manyisa.

The dying minutes were more about controlling the game for Sundowns, who hung on for a hard-fought victory, which sees them halve the gap between themselves and the Buccaneers, while Baroka remain dangerously close to the red zone.

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