A late Nhlanhla Vilakazi was not enough for Free State Stars as Mamelodi Sundowns ran out 2-1 winners in the Premiership clash at Goble Park on Monday night.
A high-tempo start to the game saw the two teams evenly matched and it was Stars who had the first clear chance on goal when Relebogile Mokhuoane nicked the ball off Motjeka Madisha, but he dragged his shot just wide of an open net.
Sundowns looked set to take the lead after 21 minutes when Sibusiso Vilakazi released Leonardo Castro, but home keeper Badra Sangare blocked the effort from a tight angle, aided by the ball deflecting off his body and onto the post.
The Tshwane outfit was again close to netting six minutes before the break, but Vilakazi just couldn’t stretch himself enough to get a toe on Castro’s flick, with Ea Lla Koto defender Patrick Phungwayo doing well to intervene.
The visitors continued to enjoy more of the ball, 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 their 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.
Tau, however, was in clinical form and after a storming 30-yard run which saw him beat several defenders, he unleashed a venomous shot from outside the box to make it 2-0.
Stars did their best to get back in the game and did come close 15 minutes from time when Danny Venter’s free-kick flew just over the bar, while at the other end, Sangare did well to stop Thokozani Sekotlong adding a third on 85 minutes.
The hosts’ goal came 30 seconds from time when Nhlanhla Vilakazi buried a superb header, but there was no way back for the men from Free State, who have only one point from three matches.