A superlative Teko Modise goal set up Mamelodi Sundowns for a 3-0 win over SuperSport United Tuesday that sealed a record-extending sixth South African Premiership title.
Nervous Sundowns were leading the Pretoria derby by a solitary goal before an anxious 30,000 crowd when the veteran midfielder struck on 62 minutes. SuperSport carelessly conceded possession inside their half and quick-thinking Modise lobbed the ball over out-of-position goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and into the net.
The goal came less than a minute after a superb tackle from Sundowns' Dutch captain Alje Schut foiled SuperSport substitute Sibusiso Zuma of a potential equaliser. Sundowns were never seriously threatened after doubling the lead at Loftus Versfeld, a stadium they share with Super !5 rugby team Northern Bulls.
Zimbabwean Cuthbert Malajila came off the bench to complete an ultimately comfortable victory and the final whistle triggered a pitch invasion by success-starved Sundowns supporters. The last title came in 2007 and the Brazilians -- Sundowns wear the same yellow and blue colours as the five-time world champions -- finished tenth last season.
Sundowns complete the 30-match league season away to Maritzburg United Saturday and another success will equal their record of 11 consecutive Premiership wins. Apart from pocketing a €680,000 first prize, Sundowns secured a place in the 2015 CAF Champions League.
Sundowns management decided to admit supporters free for the final home fixture and the generosity was rewarded as a huge, vibrant crowd poured into the suburban venue. However, they had little to cheer during a first half in which neither Williams nor rival goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was seriously tested.
Veteran striker Sunday Moriri has scored some crucial goals recently and he struck again four minutes after half-time to break the deadlock and soothe Sundowns' nerves. A Tebogo Langerman cross dropped behind SuperSport defender Sibusiso Khumalo and Moriri gently nodded the ball across the goalkeeper into the far corner.
South African Footballer of the Year candidate Modise then produced his magic and Malajila sprang an offside trap to race through and score. Sundowns have 64 points from 29 matches, four more than defending champions Kaizer Chiefs, who defeated Pretoria University 1-0 in north-eastern city Nelspruit.
Former Sundowns striker Katlego Mphela scored the winner 12 minutes from time at Mbombela Stadium by sending Zimbabwe goalkeeper Washington Arubi the wrong way from a penalty-kick.
Lamontville Golden Arrows were relegated from the richest African national football league after losing a Durban derby 1-0 at AmaZulu. Polokwane City retained a two-pont advantage over Free State Stars in the struggle to avoid finishing second last and going into play-offs with two second-tier clubs for one Premiership place.