Mamelodi Sundowns wrapped up their DStv Premiership as they were finally awarded their trophy as they wrapped up their fifth successive title following a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Royal AM at Chatsworth Stadium yesterday.
The match was postponed from Saturday following heavy rainfall in Durban and the Brazilians had to put their title celebrations on hold.
The victory yesterday saw them reach 65 points this season, five behind the target of 70 they had wanted.
A flu outbreak on the eve of the game forced Sundowns to ring the changes as Kennedy Mweene, Lyle Lakay, Sphelele Mkhulise and Gaston Sirino came in for Reyaad Pieterse, Themba Zwane and Andile Jali, who started in the abandoned clash on Saturday.
But that didn’t stop Sundowns as they didn’t waste time getting settled and broke the deadlock after 12 minutes through a neat first-time finish by Gaston Sirino following a square ball by Mkhulise.
Sundowns didn’t feel unsettled by the home side’s pursuit in the closing minutes to halftime but remained calm on the ball and picked their passes at will throughout.
They continued with their dominance in the second half and doubled their lead immediately after the restart through Thabiso Kutumela.
Masandawana scoring machine Peter Shalulile netted his 23rd goal of the season just after the hour mark after he connected from Teboho Mokoena’s cross to make it 3-0. He needed two more goals to match Collins Mbesuma’s 17-year Premier Soccer League (PSL) record of 25 goals.
Sundowns players tried to help Shalulile score more goals in the match but it was not to be as Royal defenders kept him at bay.
In the end, he could not match that record but will be pleased that he finished as the league’s top goalscorer with 23.
While Sundowns had already claimed the league title, yesterday’s fixture was still important for Royal, who were still chasing qualification for the CAF Champions League or CAF Confederation Cup spots.
And despite being 0-3 down, Royal who were known for their fighting spirit in matches this season, nearly produced another remarkable comeback as they scored two quick goals in the second half through Victor Letsoalo, who had missed a penalty before, and Shaune Mogaila.
With those two quick goals, the home side started to have the belief they can get an equaliser and put pressure on Sundowns, who lost their rhythm late in the second half. But that fighting spirit was not enough as Sundowns hung on for the victory.
Sundowns will shift their focus to the Nedbank Cup final against Marumo Gallants at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Saturday at 6pm.