Publication:

The Star Early Edition - 2021-11-25

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Onyango howlers deny Sundowns full points

SPORT

MIHLALI BALEKA mihlali.baleka@inl.co.za

DENIS Onyango remains one of Africa’s finest, but such is the pressure in the Tshwane derby that he turned from hero to villain in Mamelodi Sundowns’ 2-2 draw with SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld last night. After Sundowns led 2-0 early in the second half, the Brazilians’ goalie appeared to be en route to a seventh clean sheet in the league. But two blunders off Teboho Mokoena’s longrange strike saw him undo his work. Neo Maema broke the deadlock with a curling effort from long range after being teed up by Themba Zwane before he set up Peter Shalulile with a chipped pass early in the second half. Prior to that, it appeared as if it was going to be the Maema show. He’s made an impact as a starter or from the bench, ensuring that the defending champions are unbeaten this season after 11 league matches. They lead by six points. But Sundowns let their guard down, with Ghampani Lungu capitalising on a Mokoena rebound before the latter beat Onyango, who failed to clear his set-piece. This rivalry has become one of the most anticipated in local football with its flair and goals. It was SuperSport who started to light up the party. As early as the first minute, Matsatsantsa a Pitori had a chance to break the deadlock after a quick link-up between Sipho Mbule and Mokoena close to Downs’ 18-area. Mokoena’s final pass found Thamsanqa Gabuza, who hit a firsttime curler that rattled the crossbar, with Onyango flat-footed. But Shalulile should have returned to the scoresheet for Downs after failing to find the net against Cape Town City at the weekend, but his diving volley from close range sailed wide. It’s usually detrimental not to punish Sundowns when a chance arises, and when Gabuza’s header from Lungu’s cross was cleared off the line, one got the feeling that the visitors were probably going to rue their chances. And that was indeed the case. Shalulile was afforded space to twist and turn in front of United’s box before his shot shaved the crossbar. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams parried away what could have been an own-goal from Thatayaone Ditlhokwe. But that was how far the former could go from saving his team in the half as Maema’s beauty meant they went into the break behind. The Brazilians picked up where they left off in the second half with Shalulile scoring his ninth goal in the league after a Maema assist. Maema’s teammates, however, allowed SuperSport back into the game, with Onyango undoing his good work.

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