POLOKWANE – Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns bagged their first win of the Premiership season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Polokwane City at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday.
The hosts started brightly ahead of a small but enthusiastic crowd, with Rodney Ramagalela and Vusimuzi Mngomezulu both failing to take advantage of some slick interplay in the early stages of the contest.
The Sundowns defence then breathed a sigh of relief as Ricardo Nascimento took advantage of a lethargic defence to head his side in front.
The Brazilian was the benefactor of an early error by George Chigova in giving away a needless corner before a training-ground set-piece routine saw the South American glance home a free header with 17 minutes played.
That goal saw Polokwane shocked into action as they attempted to level matters.
It was diminutive midfielder Oupa Manyisa who proved to be Sundowns’ hero with two last-ditch tackles to keep Rise and Shine at bay.
Eight minutes after the opener, Lebohang Maboe combined with Thapelo Morena and nearly forced an own goal with the ball deflected wide.
It was far from one-way traffic, with Sundowns allowing Polokwane plenty of freedom as the hosts finished the half with seven shots, albeit none troubling Denis Onyango.
Ugandan goalkeeper Onyango was a late first-half substitute after being stretched shortly before the break with what appeared to be a serious head injury.
Maboe got his name on the score-sheet in the 53rd minute after latching on to a speculative, but well-placed ball by fellow new signing Lyle Lakay, with Chigova left stranded in the Polokwane goals.
That goal allowed Sundowns to continue with their possession-based domination as they showed the gulf in class between the sides.
Jose Meza, introduced in Jeremy Brockie’s place in the 69th minute, almost made an immediate impression after narrowly missing out on capitalising on an inch-perfect cross by the influential Gaston Sirino.
Just a few minutes later, it was again Meza that was looking most likely to add to Polokwane’s pain, but he again could not get the touch required on another superb ball into the box.
With a couple of minutes to play, Jabu Maluleke almost pulled one back, but his free-kick hit the post and away from danger, allowing Sundowns a clean-sheet and a trip home with all three points.
African News Agency (ANA)