downs stay in the hunt

MAMELODI Sundowns intensified their challenge for the Absa Premiership title with a resounding 3-0 win over AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday.

The Brazilians deserved to win after a five-star display. As early as the sixth minute, Hristo Stoitchkov's charges made their intentions clear when Katlego Mphela hit the upright.

In the 12th minute, Matthew Pattison wasted a glorious opportunity to put his side in front after some neat one-two touches involving Lebohang Mokoena and Mabhuti Khenyeza.

Usuthu then started playing with more confidence. They were awarded a free-kick in the 19th minute after Matthew Booth was adjudged to have fouled Dumisani Ngwenya.

From the resultant free kick, former Majimbos winger Marc van Heerden's powerful 35metre drive hit the post with goalie Brian Baloyi in no-man's-land.

Three minutes later, Baloyi was called on to make a brilliant save from Ayanda Dlamini outside the box.

AmaZulu started the second half an improved lot and camped in the visitor's half, but failed to make use of the chances they created.

One of those chances fell to Litha Ngxabi in the 52nd minute after Baloyi punched a cross by Sibusiso Hadebe and the ball fell straight to him, but the usually calm midfielder blasted his shot way over the bar.

Sundowns finally broke the deadlock through Mphela in the 71st minute after a neat a cross by right-back Siboniso Gaxa.

Two minutes later, Mokoena made it 2-0 with Mphela the provider this time round. The Brazilians were awarded a penalty after Ntokozo Sikhakhane was red-carded for fouling Gaxa in the box.

Mphela made no mistake from the spot kick in the 90th minute to score his 15th goal in the league.

l Maritzburg United registered their second successive win under new coach Ernst Middendorp, a 2-1 win over Ajax cape Town at Woodburn Stadium, yesterday.

Musa Nyatama scored both goals for The Team of Choice, while Lance Davids pulled one back for the home side from the penalty spot.

The match also saw the return of striker Nathan Paulse who rejoined Ajax last week on loan from Sweden's top side Hammarby IF until the end of the season.

United beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-0 in Free State last weekend.