First-half goals open the way for SuperSport United's win over Highlands
CAPE TOWN – First-half goals laid the foundation for SuperSport's well-taken 2-0 win over hitherto high-riding Highlands Park in the Absa Premiership match at the Makhulong Stadium, Tembisa, Johannesburg, on Sunday afternoon.
Highlands came into the match chasing a fifth straight home win in all competitions, but their defence was found wanting and SuperSport exploited their shortcomings. Afterwards, Highlands coach Owen da Gama referred to the shortcomings as "schoolboy errors".
SuperSport, fresh from a 2-0 victory over Bidvest Wits, repeated the feat against Highlands who on the day lacked attacking spark.
After the kick-off, the teams started tentatively with Highlands a shade quicker on the ball. Highlands managed a few early runs deep into SuperSport's half without causing problems for the defence.
SuperSport's relied on a short passing build-up from deep options but at times, it was a tad overdone and unable to strike up penetration earlier on.
Once the game settled down, SuperSport's preferred possession-based gameplan, gave them the on its ascendency and they looked threatening when attacking down the wide channel.
One such attack down the right, sparked by Dean Furman, led to the opening goal of the match. Once Congolese midfielder Guily Manziba picked up Furman's feed he reeled in a goalmouth cross from wide out and the Highland's rearguard failed to deal with the danger. Striker Aubrey Modiba was left unmarked upfront and steered the ball past Marlon Heugh, the Highlands shot-stopper, in the 23rd minute.
Manziba was later named ‘Man of the Match’.
It could well have been 2-0 a few later but this time Heugh instinctively blocked a scoring attempt SuperSpport striker Bradley Grobler.
Two minutes before halftime, Highlands were again punished for rank poor defence.
This time they gifted Bradley Grobler a goal after a SuperSport corner taken by Sipho Mbule. As the ball floated across the central area of the penalty box the Highlands defence were guilty of ball watching and left Grobler unmarked to head the ball home with the greatest ease (2-0).
There were first-half cautions for midfielders Mothobi Mvala of Highlands (20th min) and Furman (30).
Highlands did come out with a greater sense of urgency for second-half play, but the well marshalled SuperSport midfield gave them little chance of making headway. Furman was a destructive force in midfield.
Highlands offered little by way of creativity and although occasionally they found openings inside the opposition half, they were forced to try long-range strikes and this hardly troubled SuperSport keeper Ronwen Williams.
After 30 minutes of second-half play, Highlands had made all their substitutions but there was no impact and SuperSport's lead remained intact.
SuperSport central defender Clayton Daniels picked up a 78th-minute booking.African News Agency