Khaya Ndubane

By Khaya Ndubane

Digital Manager Phakaaathi

Spurs pay the penalty as Sundowns extend lead at the top

Spurs coach Ernst Middendorp could not hide his disgust as he approached the referee during the half-time break.

Mamelodi Sundowns extended their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership standings to 13 points after edging Cape Town Spurs 1-0 at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday evening.

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The Brazilians, who are unbeaten in the league this season, were expected to walk all over the bottom-placed Spurs, but it took a controversial penalty to get past the resilient Urban Warriors.

It was clear that the home side were looking for an early goal in order to unsettle the defending champions and the tactic almost worked when Asanele Velebhayi unleashed a powerful shot towards goals in the seventh minute, but he found Ronwen Williams awake in goals.

Five minutes later Themba Zwane registered Sundowns’ first shot on target when he shot straight at Neil Boshoff from just outside the box.

Neo Maema wasted a glorious chance to put the Brazilians in the lead in the 24th minute when he found himself unmarked inside the box following some good work from Lucas Ribeiro on the right, but the winger shot wide of the goal, much to the frustration of coach Rulani Mokwena.

With the Urban Warriors applying a defensive approach, mistakes were bound to happen and it came from young Velebhayi who fouled Peter Shalulile after the Namibian striker stole the ball from him. It looked like the foul happened outside the ball, but the referee pointed to the spot.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena wanted the referee to not only award a penalty, but to also send Velebhayi for an early shower, because he believed the forward had stopped an obvious goalscoring opportunity by fouling Shalulile.

Spurs coach Ernst Middendorp could not hide his disgust as he approached the referee during the half-time break to share his views and the fourth official had to intervene and move the German coach away from the referee.

Middendorp introduced Katlego Maphathe in the place of Luke Baartman at the start of the second half as he tried to inject some pace upfront.

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Shalulile came close to doubling Sundowns’ lead in the 56th minute when he beat his marker, but his shot went narrowly wide of the goal.

Ashley Cupido almost stole a point for the home side in the dying minutes of the match, but his shot hit the crossbar with Williams well-beaten and that proved to be the last chance of the game.