CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns moved seven points clear at the top of the table after edging out second-placed Cape Town City 1-0 in a suspense-filled league game at a packed Athlone Stadium on Friday night.
In a tight game which could have gone either way, a moment of sheer brilliance by Percy Tau and a clinical finish by Khama Billiat just after half-time proved the difference after a thrilling 90 minutes in the Mother City.
The first half proved to be a tense and exciting affair with both teams having their moments in attack although there were not many clear chances on goal.
The Pretoria team, enjoying good support in the stands, started the match on the front foot and Jeremy Brockie had a sniff on goal after 12 minutes when a weak back-pass let him in, but Citizens goalkeeper Sage Stephens reacted smartly to snuff out the danger.
City, came back into the game as their pacey midfielders Lyle Lakay, Craig Martin and Thabo Nodada threatened with their direct running and Lakay nearly caught out Masandawana keeper Denis Onyango with a 23rd-minute cross.
Referee Victor Gomes, seemingly never far from a bit of controversy, was at it again when he dismissed Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who had been upset over the awarding of a foul against Teboho Langerman for what had looked a good challenge on Martin in the 27th minute.
Nodada's speed took him clean through on goal five minutes before half-time, only for his progress to be halted as Onyango came flying out his box with a reckless challenge, the Downs keeper probably lucky to escape with a yellow.
The deadlock was broken in breath-taking fashion two minutes after halftime when Tau showed all of his brilliance to beat a clutch of defenders before picking out Billiat with a delightful improvised cross before the Zimbabwean smashed in an unstoppable volley.
When Edmilson teed up Ayanda Patosi seven minutes later it should have been 1-1, but the Bafana Bafana midfielder badly miscued his volley.
More chances followed for the home side, who had head coach Benni McCarthy also sitting in the stands due to suspension, but Roland Putsche and Lakay both fired over the bar.
City kept up the pressure and Onyango made a couple more smart stops to keep out a header by his own defender, Soumahoro Bangaly, as well as a pile-driver from Patosi five minutes from time.
Gomes again came to the spotlight when he sent off home defender Robyn Johannes in added time, flashing a second yellow at the captain after what looked like dissent.
African News Agency