Sundowns eclipse Galaxy with a lethal second-half goal blitz
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CAPE TOWN – After a lacklustre first-half performance, Mamelodi Sundowns fired a two-goal second-half blitz en route to a resounding 3-0 win over TS Galaxy at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on Sunday evening to reclaim the top spot on the DStv Premiership standings.
The outcome allowed the defending Premiership champions Sundowns to move from fourth place to the summit of the standings as continue their journey for a fifth consecutive title. After four matches, Galaxy remain winless and are languishing near the foot end of the table in 15th place.
From the outset, Sundowns imposed themselves on the match although Galaxy kept them at bay when they tried to find a way into the final third. Midfielder Themba Zwane tried for an early score when he fired a shot from range but was narrowly wide of the target in the eighth minute.
Galaxy relied on counter-attacks to change the flow of the game and they looked threatening in the wide channels although they too were unable to create scoring opportunities. They caused a stir in the 14th minute when they were awarded their first corner, which was superbly taken by Lindokuhle Mbatha.
The highly-rated Bosnia and Herzegovina defender Igor Makitan was up for the set-piece and he nodded home but referee Thokozani Mkhize disallowed the goal. Television replays showed that Sundowns goalkeeper Ugandan Denis Onyango was impeded when he tried to gather the ball after he was body-checked by Mlungisi Mbunjana.
Thirty minutes into the first half, neither team had managed a shot on goal, and each had forced two corners, while Sundowns enjoyed the lion's share of possession.
Sundowns were playing to a 3-4-3 formation with Kermit Erasmus in the central striker's role.
However, instead of waiting for feeds he frequently dropped back in a midfielder's role, and he produced the game's first shot on target in the 38th minute. His long-range effort bounced awkwardly in front of Vasilije Kolak, the Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper and he failed to gather cleanly. Zwane pounced on the stray ball and tried a fancy backheel but instead footed the ball over the byline.
When the second half started Sundowns took control of the match and Lyle Lakay, playing at left half, kept asking questions from the Galaxy defence with shots from range. He had a hand in the opening goal just ahead of the hour mark when Kolak spilt the ball after a powerfully struck free-kick from outside the box. Mosa Lebusa ran in from an acute angle and kicked the ball into the roof of the net.
A minute later, Sundowns staged a telling sortie down the middle of the middle, and midfielder Andile Jali sent striker Peter Shalulile away. He buried the ball in the corner of the net with a low left-footed drive, giving Kolak no chance.
Soon after this two-goal blitz, Sundowns brought three substitutes on to replace Erasmus, Rivaldo Coetzee and Gaston Sirino. They were replaced by Haashim Domingo, Thabiso Kutumela and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
The fresh legs helped Sundowns to continue enjoying the upper hand in the match and Kutumela made his presence count with his debut Premiership goal, and his team's third, five minutes from the end.