Percy Tau underlined his brilliance with two superb goals in Mamelodi Sundowns’ 2-1 league win over Free State Stars at Goble Park on Monday night.
Pitso Mosimane’s side were not quite at their fluent best, but ended up fairly comfortable winners on the night.
The Brazilians went joint top of the table, thanks to goals either side of half-time by Tau, who had come on as an early substitute after an injury to Anthony Laffor.
Ea Lla Koto ended the game strongly and pulled a goal back deep in added time, but never really looked like taking anything from the match.
Both sides looked somewhat disjointed early on and Stars could have taken the lead on 10 minutes when some careless defending by the Brazilians saw Relebogile Mokhuoane stealing the ball off Motjeka Madisha, but the Ea Lla Koto man dragged his shot just wide of an unguarded upright as Downs keeper Razak Brimah scrambled to cover his goal.
The Pretoria team had to wait until the 22nd minute for their first clear opening on goal, but after being played in by Sibusiso Vilakazi, Leonardo Castro’s shot from a tight angle struck Stars goalkeeper Badra Sangare before the ball hit the upright.
The visitors continued to enjoy more possession, but it was only in the 39th minute when they threatened again when Vilakazi arrived a fraction too late to convert Castro’s flicked header.
It was left to Tau to fire the African champions ahead and he did it in fine style with a brilliant curling free kick a minute before the interval.
Castro should have doubled the lead four minutes into the second half when left unmarked in the box, but the Columbian showed a lack of confidence right in front of goal and guided George Lebese’s cross well wide.
But there was no stopping Bafana Bafana’s Tau, who left a host of defenders in his trail after he won the ball just inside the Stars half on the hour mark before finishing with a sweetly struck 25-yard drive.
Stars midfielder Danny Venter went close with a 75th-minute free kick before Sangare reacted well to prevent Thokozani Sekotlong adding a third for the visitors five minutes from time.
Nhlanhla Vilakazi pulled a late goal back for Stars with a well-taken header, but with only 30 seconds left to play, Downs were able to close out the victory.