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Mngqithi sees red as Maritzburg hold Sundowns

Kermit Erasmus challenges Nazeer Allie

Mamelodi Sundowns missed the chance to extend their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership standings after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Brazilians handed Brian Onyango his debut against his former club with captain Hlompho Kekana returning to the starting XI, while Ernst Middendorp, who was recently re-appointed as Maritzburg's head coach made three changes to his squad as Fares Hachi was roped in alongside Judas Moseamedi and Keagan Buchanan.

Sundowns showed their intent early on and nearly broke the deadlock when Themba Zwane forced Maritzburg goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange into making a save to deny his goal-bound effort.

Lebohang Maboe had a chance of his own moments later but blazed his volley wide of the goal from inside the box.

Nazeer Allie came to his sides rescue in the 18th minute when he made a timeous goal-line clearance to keep out Peter Shalulile's effort after he was played through on goal by Zwane.

The Team of Choice had a chance of their own minutes later when Thabiso Kutumela forced a great save out of Denis Onyango to keep the scoreline level at 0-0.

Sundowns eventually took the lead in the 32nd minute after Zwane slotted the ball home from close range after latching on to a ball from Shalulile.

Kutumela should've levelled matters seven minutes from the break but saw his curling strike sailed wide of the target from the edge of the box as the game went into the break 1-0 in favour of Sundowns.

The visitors picked up where they left off in the first half and almost doubled their lead two minutes into the second half after Lyle Lakay fired a powerful strike which was initially saved by Mwange and pushed into the path of Shalulile, who was unable to guide the ball into an empty net.

Maritzburg were forced into making a change in the 54th minute when Mwange was forced off the field through injury and subsequently replaced by Jethren Barr.

Kekana then produced one of his trademark strikes from distances but his snapshot failed to trouble the Maritzburg goalkeeper as it sailed over the upright.

The home side then levelled matters on the hour mark when Kwanda Mngonyama headed the ball home from a resulting corner to make it 1-1.

The Team of Choice came close to taking the lead seven minutes later but Buchanan saw his long-range volley saved by Onyango between the sticks for Sundowns.

Kekana unleashed another thunderous strike from 40 meters out in the 73rd minute but the Team of Choice made a comfortable diving save to keep out his effort from distance.

Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi was then shown his marching orders five minutes later when he received a straight red card from referee Victor Gomes.

Kutumela had a glorious opportunity to snatch a late winner for Maritzburg in the final five minutes of the game after going clear on goal but Onyango came off his line to make a great save as both sides were forced to share the spoils at the Harry Gwala Stadium.