Sundowns halt Ajax's title charge


First-half goals from Josta Dladla and Lerato Chabangu sealed the three points for Sundowns, who move up to fourth in the table, while Ajax drop down to second, one point behind Supersport United and three ahead of Santos, with three games to go.

Dikilu Bageta’s slip from Chabangu’s hopeful through-ball on 17 minutes allowed Dladla to get behind the Ajax defence and he easily slipped the ball through the legs of the exposed Morgan Cathey in the visitors’ goal to give Sundowns the lead.

Giant Malawian Russel Mwafulirwa had the Urban Warriors best chance in the first half, but he headed over from six yards out.

The second goal for the home side came on 38 minutes when a static Ajax defence allowed Chabangu to latch onto Dladla’s cross and coolly slot the ball home first-time from 16 yards.

A magnificent 30-yard swerving effort from Esrom Nyandoro forced an equally spectacular save from Cathey just after halftime as Sundowns pushed for a third and Ajax threatened to wilt under the pressure.

Brent Carelse should have scored that third soon afterwards as he found acres of space in the Ajax penalty-area, but couldn’t punish his former side and eventually shot over.

The visitors lacked an attacking threat without the suspended Nathan Paulse and Mkhanyiseli Siwahla, as well as marauding wingback Brice Moon, and instead had to endure wave after wave of Sundowns attacks.

Carelse just failed to connect with a low cross just before the hour-mark, while at the other end Granwald Scott forced a good save from Brian Baloyi in a rare chance for Ajax.

More excellent play between Moriri and Chabangu saw the latter strike from the edge of the area, but his shot was too close to Cathey.

Dominic Isaacs performed heroics on the line two minutes from time when he saved Manqoba Ngwenya’s shot with his chest with Cathey beaten.

But by then the points were secured for the home side and they can now look forward to a Nedbank Cup semifinal with AmaZulu on Sunday, while Ajax will face Usuthu as well in their next League match on May 7.