Downs score at last
Posted: 17 December 2008 Time: 22:15
Surprise Moriri and a brace from Collins Mbesuma gave Mamelodi Sundowns a 3-0 win over Maritzburg United at the Super Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The result hands Sundowns coach Henri Michel just his second win since taking the reigns of the Tshwane giants.
The Brazilians missed the suspended Katlego Mphela and Robyn Johannes, while the Team of Choice were without Simphiwe Mkhonza (suspended), Gary Goldstone (injured) and Elias Ngwepe.
The first chance of the match arrived in the seventh minute when Surprise Moriri shot a ball with his outside right foot, from the left area of the box, over Maritzburg goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, but he missed the target.
Maritzburg did not travel to Atteridgeville just to defend, and midfielder Sipho Mngomezulu was slightly unlucky not to open to score in the 11th minute. Added to that, the Team of Choice got three corners in the first 15 minutes against Sundowns' nil, which proved Maritzburg's intent to play positive soccer.
The Sundowns players worked hard, but struggled to get proper combinations going. Part of the problem was that the passing of the Sundowns players was too slow to surprise the Maritzburg defence.
Still, Dillon Sheppard, given a rare start, whipped in a good corner from the right side to the far post and the ball was headed in by defender Derrick Spencer. But keeper Gilstrap was alert, making a fine save with his foot.
Lunch Pule looked to have the opening goal on his foot for the Team of Choice, when he was passed the ball backwards outside the box by Tony Tsabedze, after a fine run by the Swazi winger, but Pule shot the ball wide. It was a poor effort, especially considering the time Pule had to pick his corner.
The Brazilians came out of the dressing room after the break with more intent, and tried to take control of the game. Maritzburg, meanwhile, seemed to be happy to defend rather deep to absorb the pressure and hope for a successful counter-attack.
The French coach of Sundowns, Michel, decided to make a change in the 59th minute, bringing on Thando Mngomeni for the disappointing Benedict Vilikazi, who is at present a shadow of the player he once was at Orlando Pirates.
However, despite Sundowns having most of the ball possession, Maritzburg's Tsabedze got a perfect opportunity from close range in the 60th minute. But the experienced Brazilians keeper Calvin Marlin made an excellent save.
The Brazilians finally got their goal – their first since 22 November against Free State Stars – in the 69th minute thanks to Surprise Moriri, who finished maturely after receiving a well weighted through ball by Chabangu. It was a pity for Maritzburg that the goal fell at a time when they had to play with ten men, as their inspirational captain Bageta Dikilu was off the field being treated for an injury.
The goal seemed to break Maritzburg's morale, as they were 2-0 down six minutes later thanks to a good finish by Sundowns' striker Mbesuma. The Zambian added another in the 89th minute to finish the game definitively. The Brazilians took a while to get going, but from the moment they scored the opening goal, they completely dominated the game.