Peter Shalulule scores twice as Mamelodi Sundowns sink Orlando Pirates
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Namibian Peter Shalulile was clearly in a class of his own as he single-handedly sank Orlando Pirates with two stunning second-half goals in Saturday's DStv Premiership blockbuster at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
After a goalless first half Shalulile towered above the stadium like a colossus and his brace had the hallmark of class. Pirates lost their unbeaten record in the process.
Sundowns retained their unbeaten run as well as a clean sheet. It was their eighth clean sheet this season and they have yet to concede a goal. They opened a five-point gap at the top of the standings.
At the outset, Sundowns tried to impose themselves on the game with a crisp inter-passing game and Pirates were left to close them down around the edges of the penalty area.
Sundowns fired the first salvo as early as the 6th minute when Thabiso Kutumela, who was out wide on the right flank in Sundowns' three-man attack, tried a long-range shot from outside the Pirates' penalty area. His piledriver flew over the crossbar.
There was very little threat from the Pirates attack, but striker Vincent Pule fired a promising shot in the 19th minute. His shot coming in from the right flank, and outside the Sundowns penalty area, skimmed the crossbar.
Just past the half-hour mark, Pirates were allowed to make headway down the right flank and the overlapping Bandile Shandu rounded off with a shot on target, from an acute angle. Denis Onyango, the Sundowns keeper, turned the ball away for a corner.
Moments later, Pirates suffered a setback when central midfielder Terrence Dzvukaman was forced to leave the field after he suffered an earlier knock. He was replaced by Ntsako Makhubela.
Pirates finished the first half on a promising note but were foiled by Sundowns' offside trap. Central defender Thulani Hlatshwayo had found openings in Sundowns' rearguard and he threaded a neat pass to the unmarked Tshegofatso Mabasa who was well placed in the striking zone. However, he was blown up for offside after a rare show of weakness in defence by Sundowns.
The teams changed ends with Pirates probably the happier of the two since Sundowns who enjoyed 58% possession had more scoring chances but failed to capitalise.
In the early second-half play, Sundowns fired an early warning when they set off on an attacking sortie from deep into their half. The move ended with a feed to central striker Kermit Erasmus whose powderpuff shot flew over the crossbar.
A minute later, ace goalmouth poacher Peter Shalulile struck with the opening goal to give Sundowns a 1-0 lead. Kutumela set off on a penetrative run out wide and outstripped two Pirates defenders before firing in a low cross into the penalty area. Shalulile struck the ball clinically into the roof of the net in classic fashion (1-0).
Shalulile intervened again 18 minutes later, and his second goal spelt the beginning of the end for Pirates, who never looked like recovering after his first goal.
After good work by substitute Haashim Domingo (he replaced central midfielder Themba Zwane in the 63rd minute), the ball was played out to midfielder Lyle Lakay who rifled a speculative shot into the Pirates penalty box. The defence failed to deal with the threat, and the unmarked Shalulile stalked in, and placed the ball wide of Pirates keeper Siyabonga Mpontsha from an acute angle (2-0).
Pirates came close with scoring efforts towards the end but failed to crack the Sundowns defence.
In other Saturday afternoon matches, Sekhukhune United and Golden Arrows played to a 1-all draw, while AmaZulu ran out 1-0 winners over Baroka.