Hunt pleased as Chiefs end Sundowns' unbeaten record in hard-fought win
Kaizer Chiefs ended Mamelodi Sundowns' unbeaten record in the league when they beat the Premiership leaders 2-1 at Loftus stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Sundowns had gone 22 games unbeaten this season and given that Chiefs have struggled since coach Gavin Hunt took over at the start of the campaign last year‚ few expected the visitors to trouble the star-studded home side.
But Chiefs had other ideas and after going down to a first half goal from Gastón Sirino‚ they clawed their way back into the match to win courtesy of goals from Mosa Lebusa [own goal] and Dumsani Zuma‚ and in the process also end the last remaining unbeaten record in the league this season.
A gracious Hunt said while Sundowns remain a supremely gifted side‚ Chiefs deserved to leave the nation's capital with all the points after dominating the Premiership champions.
“We had a lot of good opportunities you know‚ which we did not take‚ which has been the story of our season‚ so ja‚ good determination and good effort‚ we deserved something for a change‚” Hunt said after the match.
Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi insisted that they should have won the game and his players “messed around” when they had an opportunity to finish off the game while in the lead.
Chiefs started the game at 11th place on the standings and arrived at Loftus on the back of a deflating 2-1 home defeat to Cape Town City on Wednesday night.
Some nervous fans feared the worst against a rampant Sundowns side that was yet to suffer defeat in the league this season but as the game showed‚ log standings go out the window when it comes to high-profile matches.
The Brazilians were the first to get their name up on the scoreboard after Sirino put them in the lead in the 34th minute.
They had appeared to be cruising to another win when an innocuous-looking cross from second half substitute Samir Nurković was deflected into the back of Denis Onyango's net by Lebusa in the 71st minute.
Chiefs were not done and returned to haunt the home side when Zuma held his nerve to beat Onyango in a one-on-one situation in the 74th minute.
Hunt understandably looked back and wondered after the match how they departed the nation's capital with a nail-biting 2-1 win after creating enough chances to beat Sundowns comfortably‚ especially in the opening period.
The visitors had a litany of opportunities to breach Onyango's goal‚ but they somehow contrived to waste the many chances they created when it seemed beating the Sundowns goalkeepers was the easiest option.
Sundowns signalled their intentions early in the game and after one of their patient build-ups‚ Lyle Lakay was able to slip through the sea of blue Chiefs shirts and fired a low shot that sneaked past the diving Itumeleng Khune‚ and desperately close to the upright in the 22nd minute.
It was evident that Khune would be required to put in a hard shift at the office and was called on numerous occasions to stop the marauding Sundowns forwards‚ Sirino and Lakay in particular.
But there was very little he could do when Sundowns initiated one of the patient build-ups from close to the centre line and after the irrepressible Themba Zwane had given the ball his touch of approval‚ Sirino did the rest and beat Khune after shrugging off Daniel Cardoso.
Leonardo Castro could have brought the visitors level shortly before the break‚ but he somehow ballooned the ball over the posts after a brilliant layoff from Khama Billiat.
After going to the halftime break trailing the home side‚ Chiefs returned with determination in the second period and as Hunt pointed out‚ they deserved to be rewarded after working very hard to win the game.
Chiefs had an appeal for a penalty turned down after the ball hit Lakay's hand but will be happy that they emerged from this encounter with all the points.
Chiefs face struggling Eastern Cape side Chippa United in their next match at FNB Stadium on Wednesday while Sundowns welcome Golden Arrows at Loftus.
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