Ribeiro treble helps Sundowns stretch unbeaten run to 40 matches

A hat-trick by Brazilian Lucas Ribeiro gave Mamelodi Sundowns a 3-0  victory over AmaZulu on Tuesday to extend an unbeaten South African Premiership run to 40 matches.

Signed from Belgian club Beveren last year, the 25-year-old forward netted after 48, 57 and 78 minutes in Pretoria to give the home team a 12-point lead at the top of the table.

Seeking a record-extending seventh straight title, Sundowns have 42 points from 16 matches while Cape Town City and SuperSport United, who meet on Wednesday, share second with 30 each.

Sundowns last lost in the league early in the 2022-2023 season, 2-1 by neighbours SuperSport.

“We had first half chances to score, but did not take them. At half-time the coach told us to be patient and the goals would come,” said Ribeiro after receiving the man-of-the-match award.

His treble against 10th-placed AmaZulu made him the leading Premiership scorer this season with 10 goals, two more than Khanyiso Mayo of Cape Town City.

Ribeiro is only the second player, after Nigerian Augustine Kwem for AmaZulu in November, to score a Premiership hat-trick this season.

Kwem faced Sundowns on a warm night in the South African administrative capital, but made little impact and was substituted in the second half.

Playing a fourth match in 11 days, including a CAF Champions League match in Mauritania at the other end of Africa, Sundowns lacked their usual sharpness in the opening half.

But the deadlock ended soon after half-time when AmaZulu goalkeeper Olwethu Mzimela failed to grasp a low shot from Uruguayan Gaston Sirino and Ribeiro poked the loose ball into the net.

Ribeiro fired a cutback into the corner of the net nine minutes later to give the 13-time South African champions a two-goal advantage.

Rarely-troubled Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved superbly from Zambian Augustine Mulenga before Ribeiro completed his hat-trick by springing an offside trap.

On Saturday, Sundowns host TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo in a final-round Champions League group match and need maximum points to top the final standings.

 

© Agence France-Presse

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Dylan Johnson