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Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns reveal a new strength in Orlando Pirates thrashing

8:47 PM IST 18/12/21
Peter Shalulile Lyle Lakay Rivaldo Coetzee Sundowns celebrate
The victory in Pretoria enabled the Brazilians to open an 18-point gap over second placed Kaizer Chiefs, with Bucs a further point back in third spot

Mamelodi Sundowns’ versatility in attack was on display in their 4-1 win over Orlando Pirates at Loftus on Friday night.

It wasn't as if Downs created a whole bunch of clear-cut chances against Bucs, or as if they penetrated the Pirates rearguard at will.

But after what had been an evenly contested first 50 minutes, it was via a set-piece that Sundowns took the lead.

Lakay's lethal left foot

Lyle Lakay's left boot is as cultured as they come - the Capetonian has the ability to put the ball exactly on his chosen spot, and it's this route - via set-play, which gives Masandawana another option and the possibility to go more direct when their intricate build-up play does not yield results.

It was Lakay's sweetly-delivered ball to the back-post from a free-kick which picked out Peter Shalulile, who cleverly headed the ball back across goal to provide a simple tap-in for Themba Zwane.

It was then from a sumptuous Lakay corner that Pavol Safranko registered Downs' second. The fourth and final goal, a simple back-post header from Shalulile, was once again the result of a pin-point Lakay delivery. It feels like that every time he puts the ball into the opposition box, a threat arises, a defender panics.

Just a few days earlier, it had been a Lakay free-kick which led to Downs breaking the deadlock in their 2-1 victory over Baroka FC - after goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke had failed to deal with the flight of the ball, Rushine De Reuck's header fell into the path of Rivaldo Coetzee to tap into an empty net.

De Reuck aside, the likes of Ricardo Nascimento, Mosa Lebusa and Shalulile are all-powerful in the air and give the Pretoria side a serious aerial threat when they need it.

On top of all that, long-time Masandawana talisman Themba Zwane seems to be back to his best and put in a man of the match display against Bucs.

The fact that quality players like Lebogang Maboe and Gaston Sirino are not even being missed, or that George Maluleka can't get any game time, is another show of the immense depth in the Brazilians’ squad.

With a record-setting 92 points so far from the 2021 calendar year, this current Sundowns side seems only to be getting stronger and stronger - bad news for the hopeful challengers such as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.