Mamelodi Sundowns moved level on points with Absa Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs after defeating the Soweto giants.
Chiefs were without their towering strikers Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro and Ernst Middendorp raised eyebrows with the inclusion of Keletso Sifama ahead of Khama Billiat upfront. Meanwhile, Pitso Mosimane made only change from the win over Golden Arrows, with Themba Zwane recalled.
Amakhosi had a big chance to snatch the lead in the 12th minute on a counter-attack after Bernard Parker went through on goal inside the box but instead of going for goal, he opted for a pass and the chance went begging.
Lyle Lakay came close to giving the Brazilians the lead eight minutes later with a free-kick from the edge of the box that forced a top save out of goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, who tipped the effort wide of the goal.
Gaston Sirino broke the deadlock for Sundowns ten minutes before the break with a neat strike into the bottom corner after a slick back-heel from Zwane sent him clear on goal
Sirino had a chance to double the lead for Mosimane’s men on the stroke of half-time after dribbling his way past Mathoho but Akpeyi made a crucial save with to take the ball off the Uruguayan.
After introducing Khama Billiat, Dumisani Zuma and Anthony Akumu, it was who Parker almost brought Chiefs back into the game a minute into the second stanza with a long-range strike that was tipped onto the crossbar by shot-stopper Kennedy Mweene, who had a relatively quiet first half.
Mathoho also came close for Middendorp’s troops just before the hour-mark with a strike at the back post that was saved by Mweene and the Amakhosi failed to capitalise on a rebound.
Sundowns were defending in numbers as the half went on while Mosimane made surprise a double change in the 65th minute by taking of Zwane and Sirino for Lebogang Maboe and Andile Jali.
Masandawana had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 in the last 13 minutes after Yagan Sasman’s poor back-pass was intercepted by Maboe, who rattled the upright with only Akpeyi to beat.
Billiat missed a glorious chance by heading over the crossbar in added time, as the Brazilians held on to clinch a narrow win and moved level on points with Ernst Middendorp’s side, who have a superior goal difference.
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