Mamelodi Sundowns squander chance to go top

Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns surrendered the chance to return to the top of the Absa Premiership table after a 2-2 draw with Baroka FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday, with Richard Matloga's late penalty denying Africa's champions a valuable triumph.

Titles rivals Bidvest Wits lost 3-1 in Bethlehem to Free State Stars on Wednesday, giving the Brazilians the opportunity to take top spot, but the reigning African champions' failure to win means the Clever Boys still have a two-point lead at the top of the table with two games to play.

Sundowns opened the scoring early in Atteridgeville through Khama Billiat, who ran onto Thapelo Morena's cross for a simple tap-in before a bizarre Mzwanele Mahashe own-goal made it 2-0 just before half-time.

However, Mahashe made amends for his error just moments later and scored with a header up the other end before the teams headed down the tunnel for the half-time break.

Pitso Mosimane's side controlled proceedings in the second half and appeared to be heading for a vital three points but were pegged back in stoppage time when Morena was adjudged to have handled in the area as he charged down a cross.

Replays showed that his back was turned as the ball ricocheted off his hip first before striking his arm, but Baroka forward Matloga kept his cool from the spot and beat Denis Onyango, who dived the right way but could not keep it out.

The result aids the relegation strugglers, who move level on 24 points with Chippa United but remain 15th due to their inferior goal difference.

With nine points still to play for, Baroka's stroke of fortune against the champions could prove invaluable as the season unravels.

Free State Stars, meanwhile, gave their survival hopes a major boost with that fantastic result against Wits taking them to 26 points from 28 matches.

Makhehlene Makhaula, Mohammed Anas and Sinethemba Jantjie netted for Ea Lla Koto, while Cuthbert Malajila scored for the visitors.

Sifiso Myeni was sent off in the 79th minute -- just two minutes after Malajila's goal -- as Wits went down to 10 men before Jantie made it 3-1 late on.

Two other matches on Wednesday ended in goalless draws, with Bloemfontein Celtic held at home by Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars coming away from Harry Gwala Stadium with a point against Maritzburg United.