Mamelodi Sundowns continued their mastery of Maritzburg United Saturday with a 3-0 victory that opened a three-point lead at the top of the South African Premiership table.
It was the ninth consecutive league win for the five-time champions from Pretoria against their unfashionable kwaZulu-Natal rivals and was never in doubt once Franklin Cale broke the deadlock on 53 minutes. The midfielder scored his first goal of the season by controlling a deep cross, outfoxing fullback Elias Mgwepe and drilling a low shot across goalkeeper Shuaib Walters into the far corner.
A weakness on the left side of the Maritzburg defence was exposed again on the hour mark as former Newcastle and Norwich midfielder Matthew Pattison ran through, rounded the keeper and planted the ball into an unguarded net. South Africa striker Katlego Mphela completed the rout seven minutes from full-time by sending FIFA World Cup™ team-mate Walters the wrong way from a penalty kick after Senegalese Mor Diouf handled.
Sundowns have 30 points from 14 matches, Ajax Cape Town 27 and Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates 26 each in the richest African national football championship with a 1.3-million-dollar first prize.
Former African champions Pirates needed a home win over Cape Town-based Santos to climb two places into second but managed only a largely dour 0-0 stalemate. Zambia midfielder Isaac Chansa had a late first-half chance to put the Buccaneers ahead, but poor ball control let him down as he prepared to fire past goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng.
There was a lively finish with unmarked Mark Mayambela blazing over when well placed to snatch victory for Pirates while Erwin Isaacs lifted a close-range free kick over the wall but also the crossbar at the other end.
Moroka Swallows won for the first time in the league this season by edging Wits University 1-0 away in a Johannesbrug derby settled by a 63rd-minute goal from veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvete. The match was a tale of two penalties with Nomvete steering a hard, low spot kick past Darren Keet while Brazilian David de Oliveira wasted a late chance to equalise by slamming his effort against a post.
Soweto side Swallows have eight points, three more than Mpumalanga Black Aces who they host Wednesday during a round of fixtures that marks the halfway stage of the season.