Sundowns now eye Chiefs after victory
With Mamelodi Sundowns needing a catalyst to crack open the stubborn Highlands Park defence, up stepped Mauricio Affonso from the bench to blast home a last-gasp winner in injury time to snatch a 1-0 Absa Premiership win last night.
In so doing, Downs have set up an appetising top-of-the-table clash with rivals Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
Even going into this match, the talk was always about the heavyweight clash at the weekend. Chiefs' coach Ernst Middendorp attended his second Sundowns match in a row and witnessed first-hand what a formidable side he is up against.
On Sunday, he was here watching in the stands as the Brazilians ripped AmaZulu apart with a 5-0 demolition.
Last's night match was never going to be a free-scoring encounter. Both are proud teams with solid defences that don't allow too many goals. It was a battle of two well-coached teams who play within a disciplined structure.
Sundowns altered their line-up as compared with previous games as Lebo Maboe replaced Ali Meza. The tenacious Maboe held the ball up well for his teammates and connected with Gaston Sirino on a number of occasions.
The match was always going to be decided possibly by a single converted opportunity.
Highlands defender Ryan Rae was called upon to clear some dangerous-looking balls from the opposition attack.
Downs winger Themba Zwane tried to make in-roads into the opposition territory but he was met by defensive tower Mothibi Mvala in midfield.
Going into the match, deadly Namibian striker Peter Shalulile was the man to watch for the visitors. His movement, though, was limited as he was watched closely by Mosa Lebusa.
But the match was tight and obvious chances were hard to come by. In the second half, Downs switched things up as they replaced Maboe with the lanky Affonso. Zwane and Sirino deserve a lot of credit for the goal as it was their combination that set Affonso free inside the box and he unleashed a thunderbolt that Thela Ngobeni could do nothing about.