On Thursday night, Loftus Versfeld Stadium played host to both Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United. The Tshwane Derby promised to be one of the most exciting yet, as both teams were still in contention for the league title, but a brace by Khama Billiat alongside a Themba Zwane and Mzikayise Mashaba strike, together with a Clayton Daniels' own goal, saw Pitso Mosimane's men register an easy win.
Ahead of kick-off, much was said about the role fatigue would play in the clash as both teams continued to battle the congested fixture schedule.
While, Sundowns were a formidable force for most of the season, the Tshwane giants' season has stuttered of late.
Sundowns were on a five-game winless run in their league campaign heading into the clash and were targeting nothing less than a win on the night.
Matsatsantsa on the other hand, were also looking to return to winning ways following their defeat to Baroka FC in their last league outing. The defeat against the Limpopo-based outfit saw ended SuperSport's 19-game unbeaten run, and after returning from Liberia on Monday morning, they were eyeing the three points.
Mosimane has been forced to accommodate a whole host of injuries of late, but the coach was given some respite as he welcomed back goalkeeper Denis Onyango and defender Ricardo Nascimento to the starting eleven.
Going into the clash, Mosimane was dealt a blow following their disappointing Nedbank Cup elimination. Midfield stalwart Tiyani Mabunda was forced off early with an injury against Golden Arrows.
Nonetheless, in a show of confidence, Mosimane continued to give youngster Motjeka Madisha a run in the heart of Sundowns’ defence.
On the side of SuperSport, Stuart Baxter was forced to reshuffle his starting XI to accommodate for the loss of Thabo Mnyamane. The influential winger was suspended for the clash following his red card in the Nedbank Cup and his place was taken by Thuso Phala.
The PSL defending champions began the match brightly with Percy Tau missing two glorious chances in quick succession. The dynamo was proving a nuisance to the SuperSport backline, but he was constantly denied by goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse.
In the seventh minute, Tau finally had the ball in the back of the net. Although, it was due to a massive deflection by Clayton Daniel’s, which saw Tau’s attempted cross come off the knee of Daniels and over a hapless Pieterse.
Sundowns were putting on a stunning display that had the SuperSport defence in sixes and sevens.
With just under 15 minutes on the clock, Sundowns were unlucky not to have doubled their advantage. This time it was Hlompho Kekana, who latched onto a tantalising cross, but the midfield general’s header cannoned off the woodwork.
The home side grabbed their second three minutes. Themba Zwane was on hand as he tapped home from close range after Tebogo Langerman’s low drive was blocked in the box. SuperSport were clearly showing the effects of their travels on the continent as they failed to deal with the Sundowns' attack.
At this stage, Sundowns were running riot and it wasn't surprising to see Mzikayise Mashaba fire home a third with a powerful drive following some good display from Billiat.
The rain was bucketing down and the sporadic Loftus Stadium crowd were treated to an exciting brand of football from Mosimane’s men. The movement and pace of Tau was proving to be a constant threat throughout the first half.
With the half time break drawing to a close, the match quietened down as Sundowns were content to put their foot on the ball and dictate the pace of the game.
There was still time for Billiat to make it 4-0 just before the interval. The 26-year-old took full advantage of the wet conditions as his low drive flew past a despairing Pieterse after being given enough space to take a shot.
With the resumption of the first half, coach Baxter rang the changes in hope of finding a spark. The 63-year-old British-born tactician withdrew the duo of Phala and Mandla Masango, in favour of youngster’s Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena.
Coach Baxter’s half time team talk seemed to spur SuperSport on, as they put on a more positive display.
In the 47th minute Sundowns’ keeper Onyango was finally tested. The 31-year-old was largely a spectator throughout the first half but he was alert to the danger as he dealt with a dangerous goalmouth scramble.
The introduction of Modiba brought with it an extra attacking impetus as the youngster threatened the Sundowns’ goal.
Despite SuperSport’s resurgence, they were exposed yet again at the back. After some brilliant interplay, Billiat was on hand to strike the ball past the SuperSport keeper from inside the box, compiling further misery on SuperSport.
To SuperSport’s credit they never gave up, but they could not find their way past Onyango. Even Kingston Nkhatha failed to trouble the Uganda international 15 minutes from time as he shot went wide of goal from inside the box.
Sundowns threatened in the closing stages of the game, but Pieterse kept the scoreline at 5-0 with some brilliant saves.