Liberian striker Anthony Laffor scored a hat-trick as South African Premiership leaders SuperSport United trounced Mamelodi Sundowns 4-1 in a Pretoria derby. The victory lifted defending champions SuperSport to 49 points, six more than Orlando Pirates and nine ahead of Kaizer Chiefs as the race for the title enters the closing stage.
Sundowns are 11 points adrift in fourth place with five fixtures left and virtually out of the title race while raising doubts about the future of French coach Henri Michel. Laffor, who played in his homeland and Ghana before arriving in South Africa four years ago, claimed his second hat-trick of the championship season and lies third on the scorers list with 11 goals.
He broke the deadlock at Super Stadium after 23 minutes by rounding goalkeeper Calvin Marlin and his low cross set up the second goal for midfielder Daine Klate soon after to give United a 2-0 half-time lead. There was no second-half comeback from expensively assembled Sundowns and Laffor struck again on 65 minutes after Glen Salmon won a race for possession and played the ball into the path of the lethal Liberian.
Sundowns embarrassment was completed 12 minutes from full-time when Laffor got to a cross first and national squad member Marlin had to pick the ball out of his net once more. The losers were reduced to 10 men when another Bafana Bafana (The Boys) contender, defender Matthew Booth, was shown a red card for a late tackle on Mozambican midfielder Elias 'Domingues' Pelembe.
Zambian substitute Collins Mbesuma finally gave Sundowns supporters some cheer with a consolation goal and SuperSport goalkeeper Andre Arendse made several late saves. The keeper, who turns 42 in June, was recalled in place of Ugandan Dennis Onyango as coach Gavin Hunt rang the changes after an African Champions League loss at Kampala City Council last weekend.