By Zaahier Adams
Peter Shalulile’s eleventh goal of the season propelled Mamelodi Sundowns a step closer to retaining their DStv Premiership crown on Sunday at the Mmombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The defending champions, who are aiming for their fourth straight championship, have stretched their lead to seven points with the 1-0 victory over TS Galaxy. The Brazilians now require just two more victories from the final four games of the season to secure the title.
The home side were well aware of the danger Sundowns posed in attack, particularly the central figure of their former teammate Shalulile, who has been in superb form since transferring to Chloorkop at the beginning of the season.
Prior to this contest the Namibian international had already found the net on 10 occasions and he added another on Sunday to put the Brazilians into the lead after just 17 minutes.
Promise Mkhuma delivered a scorching ball into the box from a corner, which Galaxy defenders MacBeth Mahlangu and Tumelo Bodibe failed to deal with effectively. Ever the predator, Shalulile reacted fastest to head the bouncing ball past Westen van der Linde in the Galaxy goal.
The home side certainly looked vulnerable whenever Sundowns whipped in the corners with Lyle Lakay delivering another inch-perfect cross from the lett flank that met Mosa Lebusa’s head, but the deflection – fortunately for Galaxy – went inches wide of the near post on this occasion.
Galaxy had a golden opportunity to level matters on the half hour mark after a spell of concerted pressure down the right flank by Luckyboy Mokoena.
The opening was eventually created for Bathusi Aubaas, who drilled a powerful shot towards the Sundowns goal which struck Mosa Lebusa on the arm.
The referee had no option but to point towards the penalty spot which allowed Lindokuhle Mbatha to step up in an attempt to level up the game.
Unfortunately for Owen da Gama’s team, Mbatha seemed too casual in his approach and could only look on as Sundowns veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene dived to his right to parry the ball the safety.
There were no clear cut chances for either team in the second half as Sundowns controlled possession thereby not allowing Galaxy any opportunities to create any pressure on the visitors’ goal.
Sundowns were also content to sit on their lead and although they remained dangerous whenever they crossed the ball into the box, they were not able to deliver the killer blow.
It almost came back to haunt them during the dying stages, however, when Marks Munyai’s cross caused panic in the Sundowns box.
Former Sundowns midfielder Khayelihle Shozi found Masilake Phohlongo who cut past Lebusa, but his strike went high over the bar from about seven yards and that was the final chance for the home side to level matters as Sundown’s march to the title continued. IOL