Downs go four clear with Baroka scalp

Sundowns were out to continue their pursuit of reclaiming the title they lost to Bidvest Wits last season by keeping their table-topping position intact.

The tone was set from the get go as they piled the pressure on Baroka with Sibusiso Vilakazi firing their first shot at goal, which went straight to the grateful arms of Ayanda Dlamini.

Baroka responded with a snapshot from Lucky Nguzana, which was of no problem to Denis Onyango, who collected calmly.

The opportunities for them didn’t end there as Talent Chawapihwa unleashed a shot from 22-yards that forced Onyango to dive to his left to tip it around the post after seven minutes.

The Zimbabwean pulled a hamstring two minutes later after colliding with an opponent and was replaced by Robin Ngalande.

That didn’t disrupt their rhythm as they kept up the pressure on Downs after Nguzana got on the end of a through ball, but blasted over the top on 20 minutes.

Baroka deserving went ahead after Nguzana, playing against his former team, connected with a shot corner to volley into the net a minute later.

The visitors looked for an immediate reply and almost found it when Percy Tau beat the offside trap, but skied over the top in the 25th minute.

Uruguayan Gaston Sirino combined expertly with Khama Billiat and played in the latter, who obliged with a volley that failed to trouble Dlamini on the half an hour mark.

It was all Downs at this stage after Vilakazi eased through the defence after beating a few defenders to set-up Sirino, who volleyed over.

The equaliser eventually came off a corner which Wayne Arendse head home after outjumping the defence as the half ended 1-1.

Downs went in front for the first time in the match after good work from Vilakazi set-up Tau for a well-executed finish after 51 minutes.

In pursuit of a comeback, Bakgaga brought on Richard Matloga to replace Rhulani Sidumo on 63 minutes, with chances few and far between for both sides.

Pitso Mosimane made a change in the 73rd minute, bringing on Themba Zwane for Vilakazi, with the game in the balance.

Former Orlando Pirates captain Oupa Manyisa then took the place of Sirino two minutes later, as Downs ran out eventual victors, despite the late misses from substitute Jeremy Brockie and Tau.