PSL Wrap: Downs Clinch Crown, Four In Playoff Fight
PSL Wrap: Mamelodi Sundowns Crowned Champions, Four-Way Relegation Scrap To Go Into Final Day
The penultimate round of the Absa Premiership season proved a defining one in the title race, while a four-way battle against relegation will headline the final day of the season.
Saturday saw the 16 top-flight teams in action across eight simultaneous kick-offs, where all eyes were on the Lucas Moripe Stadium as Mamelodi Sundowns came from behind to beat Ajax Cape Town 3-1 and secure league glory.
Mosa Lebusa's second-minute opener for the Urban Warriors proved a distant memory by half-time as the Brazilians rallied in style through Khama Billiat (12), Ricardo Nascimento (28 pen) and Sibusiso Vilakazi (36), to eventually walk away as Absa Premiership champions-elect with one game to spare.
The title was not yet assured prior to Saturday's 15:00 kick-offs as Orlando Pirates were still in with a shout, but the Buccaneers let themselves down after slumping to a 1-0 loss away to Cape Town City, where Ayanda Patosi's 35th-minute thunderbolt proved to be the difference - although even victory wouldn't have been enough for Bucs, given Sundowns' dismantling of the Urban Warriors.
With new champions being crowned, the outgoing title holders were able to give themselves a shot at a top-eight finish heading into the final day as Bidvest Wits came from behind against AmaZulu to eventually clinch a thrilling 3-2 win.
The action was top-heavy at the Bidvest Stadium, with most of the action happening in the final half an hour, where Daine Klate (60, 82) bagged a brace to cancel out Michael Morton's 33rd-minute opener for Usuthu, before Ben Motshwari's goal three minutes from time meant Roggert Nyundu's 89th-minute effort would only prove a consolation.
Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs took a big step towards locking up third place as they defeat Maritzburg United 2-0 at FNB Stadium, with goals in either half from Gustavo Paez (30) and Dumisani Zuma (68) enough to see Amakhosi leapfrog the Team of Choice to sit two points clear in third with the one round of fixtures left.
Elsewhere, Platinum Stars' relegation from the top-flight, which was already confirmed before the weekend's action, was compounded as they went down 3-2 away to Golden Arrows, where Enocent Mkhabela (58) and Letsie Koapeng (90) were only able to earn consolation goals for Dikwena after a brace from Knox Mutizwa (18, 79) and Danny Venter (30) left Arrows one point clear in the top eight.
At the bottom, SuperSport United were denied three massive points as they were held late on by Chippa United in a 1-1 draw, while Polokwane City are also in the relegation mire as they drew 0-0 with Free State Stars, who are comfortably in the MTN8 qualifying positions, and also through to the Nedbank Cup final on May 19.
Bloemfontein Celtic's late equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Baroka FC meant only goal-difference keeps Phunya Sele Sele out of the top eight, while Bakgaga enter the final round of league fixtures with their top-flight survival not assured.
Propping up the pile of teams still facing relegation on the final day are Ajax, who sit in 15th after their loss to the champions, although only three points separate the Mother City giants and 12th-placed Baroka, with Polokwane and SuperSport sandwiched between.
Absa Premiership Final Round Fixtures - 12 May (all 15:00 kickoff):
AmaZulu v Cape Town City
Bloemfontein Celtic v Mamelodi Sundowns
Orlando Pirates v Free State Stars
Ajax Cape Town v Kaizer Chiefs
Platinum Stars v Bidvest Wits
Maritzburg United v Golden Arrows
Polokwane City v Chippa United
SuperSport United v Baroka FC