Maritzburg end Sundowns title hopes

Fortune Makaringe challenged by Teko Modise and Percy Tau Fortune Makaringe challenged by Teko Modise and Percy Tau

Mamelodi Sundowns FC fought back to secure a 2-2 draw with Maritzburg United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, but it wasn’t enough to keep their title hopes alive. DYLAN APPOLIS reports.

The Brazilians missed out on the chance to go top of the Absa Premiership table in their previous encounter after playing out to a 2-2 draw with Baroka last week. They currently sit second in the standing,  three points behind leaders Bidvest Wits.

Meanwhile, Maritzburg came off the back of a goalless draw with Platinum Stars in their last encounter and currently sits seventh in the PSL standings.

The Team of Choice came out with an attacking intent in the opening exchanges of the match and controlled most of the possession on the ball.

Sundowns struggled to carve out any real opportunities in the final third as they failed to keep a hold of possession.

However, Maritzburg broke the deadlock in the 30th minute when Brain Onyango’s header beat Sundowns keeper Kennedy Mweene to find the back of the net from a Deolin Mekoa corner.

Pitso Mosimane responded to going a goal down by replacing Thabo Nthethe with Bangaly Soumahoro with 10 minutes to the half-time interval.

In the opening 45 minutes of the match, the match went into the half-time interval with Maritzburg leading by a single goal.

The defending champions came out with more intent int the second-half and dominated possession as the match went on.

Sundowns were then dealt a major blow in the 60th minute when Khama Billiat was forced off the field after sustaining an injury and had to be replaced by Anthony Laffor.

However, Maritzburg then doubled their lead seven minutes later as Evans Rusike showed great composure to float the ball over Mweene to make it 2-0.

Sundowns came close to reducing the deficit in the 81st minute after Hlompho Kekana produced an effort at goal, but he was ultimately denied by Virgil Vries.

Mosimane’s side eventually pulled a goal back seven minutes later when substitute Yannick Zakri guided the ball past Vries from close range to reduce the deficit to one goal.

Zakri then completed his brace in stoppage-time to draw his side level after capitalising on an error from Vries, as the match ended in a 2-2 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.

Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates were forced to play out to a goalless draw with Ajax Cape Town at the Orlando Stadium, as both sides share a point each.

Struggling side’s Baroka were held to a goalless draw by Highlands Park at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, while Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars shared a point each after settling for a 0-0 draw at the Dr Molemela Stadium.

– This story originally appeared on SportsClub.co.za