Reports & Previews

Free State Stars 0-1 Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns secured the Premiership title on a tense final day as Phakamani Mahlambi's first-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over stragglers Free State Stars at Goble Park.

Both teams created their fair share of goalscoring chances, but it was Downs netted the all-important win an exciting 90 minutes of football.

As expected, Downs came flying out of the starting traps and put the relegation-threatened Stars under immense pressure in the opening 30 minutes.

Gaston Sirino saw his early free-kick strike the defensive wall, before Lebohang Maboe headed wide of the mark after being teed up by the South American.

Maboe had another chance to fire Sundowns in front in the 13th minute after latching onto a neat pass from Hlompho Kekana, but the resulting shot on goal was blocked by experienced defender Rooi Mahamutsa.

Kekana was the next player to try his luck at goal, just two minutes later, but his shot from a tight angle was saved well by Badra Sangare in the Stars goal.

The visitors again went close to breaking the deadlock in the 22nd minute, only for Themba Zwane to send his curling shot inches wide of the upright.

Sangare was again called into action in the 24th minute and had to be alert to keep out a stinging Sirino strike.

After weathering the storm, Stars began to create some noteworthy chances of their own. However, they were unable to capitalise as Harris Tchilimbou headed just wide from Nyiko Mobbie's excellent cross, before Onyango pulled of a two great saves to deny Sibusiso Hlubi and Relebogile Mokhuoane.

And Stars were made to rue those missed opportunities as Downs substitute Phakamani Mahlambi pounced on a loose ball in the 43rd minute before sending an angled shot across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.

Stars gave a better account of themselves after the break, and enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening spell of play.

The hosts thought they had scored in the 59th minute but the goal was ruled out for a handball by Hlubi in the build up, while Makhaula's deflected shot was denied by the impressive Onyango on the hour mark.

Sundowns hit back with two chances of their own, but Maboe fired wide from inside the box, before Mahamutsa made a crucial, last-ditch tackle to deny Mahlambi.

Tchilimbou then had a great chance to level the scores with 20 minutes remaining, but was unable to direct his header on target under pressure from the Downs defence, while substitute Eleazar Rodgers lashed a powerful shot over the bar in the 80th minute following a good ball into the box by Hlubi.

However, Stars were unable to find the all-important breakthrough as Sundowns didn't let up their relentless pressure until the final whistle, confirming their status as the 2018/19 Absa Premiership champions.