Johannesburg — Brazilian Lucas Ribeiro scored to earn Mamelodi Sundowns a 1-0 win at Orlando Pirates on Wednesday in the most high-profile South African Premiership match so far this season.
The South American slammed a 12th-minute shot over goalkeeper Sipho Chaine and into the corner of the net in a tense clash in Soweto that included nine yellow cards.
It was the fifth goal of the season for the Brazilian, placing him top of the goal scorers chart in the richest African national league with a 15 million rand first prize.
Ribeiro was a mid-year signing from Belgian outfit SK Beveren and also scored twice in his CAF Champions League debut last weekend.
Seeking a seventh straight league title, former African champions Sundowns are already seven points ahead of second-placed Golden Arrows after seven straight wins since the season kicked off.
If Sundowns win their next Premiership match, at home to Stellenbosch on September 27, they will equal the record of Kaizer Chiefs, who began the 2014-2015 season with eight straight victories.
Pirates, the other South African club to have been African champions, are in the unaccustomed position of 11th, having played two matches less than Sundowns.
Mamelodi Sundowns ensured that their perfect start to the league campaign continued as they remained resolute to defeat Orlando Pirates on Wednesday evening 👆
Match Report📲 https://t.co/vbx9DDzVVm#Sundowns #DStvPrem pic.twitter.com/fzrmWVfdOD
— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) September 20, 2023
“We won against very good opponents at a very difficult venue to come to and secure maximum points,” said Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena.
“Our passion, character and tactical awareness were spot on. We were under pressure in the closing stages, but did not suffer much.”
“Some substitutions were influenced by another huge match on the horizon,” added Mokwena as he explained taking off several stars, including Ribeiro, before the hour mark.
Sundowns host Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday in the second leg of their MTN 8 Cup semi-final, with the clubs deadlocked at 1-1.
“We were not ourselves in the first half and I do not understand why. We were much better in the second half, but matches last 90 minutes, not 45,” said Pirates’ Spanish coach Jose Riveiro.
SuperSport United rose to third, one point behind Arrows, thanks to a 1-0 home win over Chiefs through a 67-second goal from Zimbabwean Terrence Dzvukamanja in the northern city of Polokwane.
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Picture: X/ @Masandawana
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