TEAM OF CHOICE BOUNCE BACK TWICE TO DENY SUNDOWNS
21 August 2020
Maritzburg United put up a spirited display to earn a 2-2 draw against Absa Premiership title hopefuls Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a riveting encounter, goals from Rushine De Reuck and Thabiso Kutumela earned the Pietermaritzburg side a share of the spoils in Tshwane.
Sundowns were ahead on 24 minutes when the ball was worked to Hlompho Kekana, whose goal-bound shot from the edge of the box seemed to be covered by Richard Ofori, but then deflected off a defender and wrong-footed the keeper before hitting the back of the net.
The Team of Choice were however able to respond well to the setback and were close to restoring parity when Kutumela fired a shot into the side-netting moments later.
Maritzburg continued to attack and equalised in the 31st minute when Sundowns failed to adequately clear Keagan Buchanan’s floated free kick into the box and the ball fell for De Reuck, who volleyed in a sublime effort into the roof of the net.
The Tshwane side then came storming back and created a succession of chances, especially for Gaston Sirino, but the scoreline remained unchanged as Sirino twice missed the target and also had another effort saved by Ofori.
United were to suffer an early second half setback when a Sundowns free kick bounced awkwardly in the box and struck Nazeer Allie on the arm, with referee Abongile Tom pointing to the spot.
Although Ofori went the right way, he was not able to get a strong enough arm to keep out Ricardo Nasciemento’s spot kick.
The goal seemed to spur Maritzburg to life and there was a decent chance for them when Judas Moseamedi turned sharply in the box, but his parting shot was too close to Denis Onyango.
The Team of Choice’s bench did however not have to wait too long to celebrate as the equaliser arrived soon after – a beauty of a goal it was as Kutumela picked up the ball 25-yards out and blazed a low curling shot into the far corner.
Another chance arrived soon after for Maritzburg to take the lead but it wasn’t to be as Moseamedi was unable to steer his header on target.
At the other end, Anele Ngcongca could have scored for Masandawana but somehow put the ball into the arms of Ofori rather than the net, from just five yards out.
Kutumela’s pace meanwhile was continuing to cause problems for the Brazilians and they were reduced to 10 men after Nasciemento was shown a second yellow card after blocking Maritzburg’s speedy forward.
The remainder of the game was a bit of a cat-and-mouse affair as Maritzburg probed for a winner while also being wary of Sundowns’ quality and threat on the counter.
In the end the draw was arguably about a fair reflection of a lively and entertaining 90 minutes in Atteridgeville.
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