Mshishi scored the second hat-trick of the season, joining Chippa United’s Bienvenu Eva Nga, who netted three times against Maritzburg United
Mamelodi Sundowns recorded their second successive win in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) when they edged out AmaZulu FC 4-3 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Themba ‘Mshishi’ Zwane scored three times in the first-half for Masandawana and Peter Shalulile netted what proved to be the winning goal, while Usuthu scored through Lehlohonolo Majoro, Sandile Khumalo and Luvuyo Memela.
The victory took Masandawana to the top of the league standings – two points above Swallows FC and Orlando Pirates, while Usuthu moved down to the 12th spot on the table.
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Masandawana were determined to maintain their unbeaten start to their title defence having secured a 2-0 victory over Cape Town City in their previous match on November 4.
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Sundowns head coach Manqoba Mngqithi made two changes to the team which faced City with Kennedy Mweene and Lebohang Maboe making their return to the starting line-up.
On the other hand, Usuthu were hoping to make it two wins in a row after recording their maiden win of the season by defeating Black Leopards 2-0 just before the recent break.
Coach Ayanda Dlamini opted for continuity in selection as he named an unchanged team with Majoro spearheading the AmaZulu attack, while Mario Booysen started against his former side.
AmaZulu managed to grab an early lead and it was a gift from Ricardo Nascimento, who was captaining in the absence of Hlompho Kekana and Denis Onyango, 15 minutes into the match.
The Brazilian defender’s tame back pass to Sundowns goalkeeper Mweene was intercepted by Majoro and the former Orlando Pirates marksman hit the back of the net to make it 1-0 to AmaZulu.
However, Masandawana upped the tempo and Zwane reminded everyone why he is the reigning PSL Footballer of the Season as he grabbed two quick goals to hand the hosts the lead.
Zwane combined with Shalulile before beating AmaZulu keeper Siyabonga Mbatha with a powerful shot at the near post from inside the box to make it 1-1 in the 19th minute.
It was soon 2-1 to Sundowns nine minutes before the half-hour mark when Maboe set-up Zwane, who then curled the ball into the far post with his left foot – beating Mbatha hands down.
The goal unsettled the Usuthu defence which was struggling to contain Masandawana’s pacey attackers and the visitors conceded another goal in the 30th minute following some good work by Kermit Erasmus
The Bafana Bafana international unselfishly set-up Zwane, who made no mistake as he beat Mbatha from close range to make it 3-1 to Sundowns and the hosts were deservedly leading at the interval.
Nascimento, who was having one of his worst matches in a Sundowns jersey, handled the ball in the box after the restart and AmaZulu were awarded a penalty.
Memela was denied from the spot-kick by Mweene, but the former Pirates winger reacted quickly and scored from the rebound to make it 3-2 three minutes into the second half.
However, the defending champions responded with a goal eight minutes later when Lyle Lakay’s corner-kick was headed home by last season’s PSL Golden Boot winner Shalulile, who made it 4-2 to Sundowns.
It was raining goals in Tshwane as AmaZulu hit back when Khumalo headed home Augustine Mulenga’s corner-kick to make it 4-3 just before the hour-mark as the visitors refused to surrender.
The momentum was with Usuthu at this stage as Memela and second-half substitute Sibusiso Magaqa forced Mweene into two good saves as the visitors looked to level matters.
Mngqithi and his assistants Rhulani Mokwena Steve Komphela decided to pull out attack-minded Shaulile and introduced defender Khuliso Mudau as the hosts looked to contain Usuthu.
Sundowns then stood firm at the back in the dying minutes of the match and ultimately, they secured a hard-fought 4-3 victory over a resilient AmaZulu side.
Sundowns will get an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the log when they face Stellenbosch FC on November 25, while AmaZulu are scheduled to face Cape Town City on November 28.