Mamelodi Sundowns looked in cruise control as they ran out to an easy 3-0 league win over Stellenbosch FC at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday evening.
The goals came from Peter Shalulile and Kermit Erasmus in the first half before Themba Zwane converted what was his fifth league goal of the season after the interval.
Sundowns did not play especially well in the opening stanza but took advantage of two moments of lapses of concentration from the Cape defence to take a 2-0 lead into the break.
The first goal came in the seventh minute when Erasmus was given space on the right to pick out a cross and he teed it up for Shalulile, who ghosted in between two defenders to score with a superbly-taken header.
The match was then paused for a minute after 16 minutes to allow the players to pay tribute to Anele Ngcongca, the former Sundowns defender who was tragically killed in a car accident at the start of the week. Sixteen being the number of the jersey he wore.
It didn’t take much longer for the next goal to come – in the 25th minute Shalulile returned the favour as he picked up on a loose ball and played in Erasmus, who controlled the ball 14-yards out before finishing with a clinical low shot into the far corner.
Although Stellenbosch tried to come back into the game in the last 15 minutes of the half, they never posed any real threat and the Brazilians could perhaps have added a third if Themba Zwane had made better contact on a cross from Erasmus.
Without really breaking a sweat after the restart, the Tshwane giants further added to their tally on the hour mark when Lyle Lakay won the ball, and gave it to Lebohang Maboe, who in turn fed Erasmus, who squared for Zwane to finish from close range.
There was a rare chance for Stellenbosch in the 71st minute when substitute Stanley Dimgba picked the ball up near the half way line and nearly ran right through the Sundowns defence, but he was denied by a fine last-gasp challenge by Tebogo Langerman, who was on for Lakay.
By this stage of the game the Sundowns technical bench had been able to make several changes, bringing on fringe players such as Lesedi Kapinga and Haashim Domingo for a run-out, while taking off key men Zwane and Erasmus to give them a break.
Domingo and Kapinga were to combine superbly in the 77th minute but the former was unable to score as the visitor’s keeper Lee Langeveldt pulled off an excellent save. Langeveldt was at it again moments later to deny Rivaldo Coetzee.
From then on it was a matter of seeing out the game for Sundowns and damage control for Stellies, as Downs won 3-0 to move two points clear of Swallows FC at the top of the standings.