Kermit Erasmus made a notable impact off the bench as he provided assists for both goals as the Brazilians stretched their lead at the top
Two goals inside five second-half minutes from Gaston Sirino and Peter Shalulile steered Mamelodi Sundowns to a 2-0 win over Baroka FC in a lively league encounter at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Baroka had not come into the match in good form, having gone four matches without a win. However, in an open and action-packed first half, it was the Limpopo side who had the better of the chances and they looked particularly dangerous on the counter.
It was Sundowns though who had the first openings – after two minutes Mothobi Mvala had a shot blocked before Lyle Lakay followed up and fired just wide of the target.
At the other end, Sundowns keeper Denis Onyango comfortably saved Ananias Gebhardt’s eighth-minute header.
Onyango was again called into action in the 18th minute and had to react sharply to get down and stop Evidence Makgopa from turning in Thamsanqa Masiya’s cross from just a few yards out.
Baroka continued to look dangerous and they should really have gone ahead in the 33rd minute when a routeone ball from goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze was flicked into the path of Masiya. With Onyango off his line, the goal was beckoning, but Masiya failed to capitalise as he lobbed the ball wide.
Bakgaga also had the final chance of the first half when right-back Mashweu Mphahlele went for goal from some distance out on the flank, nearly catching out Onyango, who ultimately did well to gather the ball.
While Masandawana started the second half with purpose, it was again the visiting team who looked more likely to score and they wasted another great chance when Manuel Kambala sent a volley off target with the goal at his mercy in the 57th minute before Joslin Kamatuka scuffed an effort wide moments later.
However, having failed to take their chances, Baroka were punished by the Brazilians in the 63rd minute when substitute Kermit Erasmus turned neatly before threading in a superb ball for Sirino, who ran through on goal unchallenged before placing a low curling shot into the bottom right corner.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 when Siphelele Mkhulise picked out Erasmus in the box, the striker taking a touch before firing goalwards, where Chipezeze could only palm the ball into the path of Shalulile, who tapped in with ease.
To their credit Baroka didn’t throw in the towel and were close to levelling in the 78th minute when Onyango flapped at a corner but failed to get contact, allowing Phelelani Shozi to shoot at what appeared an empty net, before centre-back Ricardo Nascimento came to his keeper’s aid by heading the ball off the line.
At the other end, Erasmus wasted a fantastic chance when he hit the post from close range following a pin-point cross from Lebohang Maboe.
Onyango, meanwhile, continued to work hard as he tipped a header from Kamatuka over the line before Tshediso Patjie also went close.
The Ugandan stopper was to make sure of the clean sheet with another fine save – denying Kgodiso Monama from point-blank range in the 93rd minute.