The Absa Premiership title race will go down to the wire after champions Mamelodi Sundowns defeated Polokwane City 3-0 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The result, secured by goals from Anele Ncongca, Themba Zwane and Keletso Makgalwa, sees the Brazilians remain level on points with log leaders Kaizer Chiefs (who have a superior goal difference) heading into the season finale on Saturday.
As for Rise and Shine, they are all but sure to suffer direct relegation. The Limpopo side sits at the bottom of the log with 25 points, three adrift of 15th-placed Baroka FC, who have a superior goal difference (-9 to -16)
The first chance of the game went the way of Sundowns in the second minute, with Promise Mkhuma cutting inside from the flank and getting a shot away, only for Polokwane goalkeeper George Chigova to make an excellent save.
Polokwane had chances of their own, with strikers Mohammed Anas and Puleng Tlolane both testing out ‘Downs gloves-man Kennedy Mweene, before the Brazilians’ Lebohang Maboe put a header just over in the 12th minute.
Midway through the first half ‘Downs threatened again, with Motjeka Madisha heading powerfully on target from a corner kick, but Chigova made a sharp save at his near post.
The Polokwane ‘keeper made a couple more notable saves before finally being beaten in the 39th minute. A corner kick saw Ricardo Nascimento direct an effort on target from his body – Chigova made a fine stop, but Anele Ngcongca was on hand to sweep home the rebound and put Sundowns 1-0 up.
It was 2-0 just four minutes later, as Gaston Sirino fed Themba Zwane, who gracefully moved past a challenge before sweeping home a shot with his left foot to put the Brazilians well and truly in charge heading into the break.
Sundowns looked to add a third early in the second stanza when Sirino tried to beat Chigova at his near post from the right channel, but the Zimbabwean shot stopper was having none of that. On 53 minutes Polokwane put together their best attacking move of the game, but Sibusiso Hlubi struck over the crossbar from point-blank range.
Rise and Shine looked to their bench for inspiration and brought on the like of veteran midfielder Jabu Maluleke and striker Charlton Mashumba, but they were unable to wrestle control of the game from a determined Brazilians outfit.
In fact, ‘Downs rubbed salt into the wounds for Polokwane when substitute Keletso Makgalwa added a third deep into injury time to complete the scoring.
The teams will wrap up their league season on Saturday 5 September: Polokwane will visit Bidvest Wits at the FNB Stadium, while Sundowns will host Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium.
Polokwane City 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 3 (Ngcongca 39’, Zwane 43’, Makgalwa 90+6’)
Polokwane: Chigova, Nkili, Motloung, Hlongwane, Mngomezulu (Booi 63’), Mvelase, Manaka (Chauke 64’), Phiri, Hlubi (Mashumba 55’), Tlolane (J. Maluleke 55’), Anas
Sundowns: Mweene, Ngcongca, Nascimento, Madisha, Langerman, Mkhuma (Meza 68’), Kekana (Mabunda 90’), Coetzee, Zwane (Mkhulise 90’), Sirino (Makgalwa 75’), Maboe (Lakay 75’)©
SOURCED FROM THE PSL WEBSITE.