Chiefs lick their lips as Sundowns and Wits play to a draw in Durban
Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits cancelled each other’s class out in a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night.
Two fine goals were scored before the break, Gaston Sirino putting Sundowns ahead in the 15th minute, Gift Motupa equalising in the 45th.
Leaders Kaizer Chiefs would have savoured this result more than the two teams on the field.
Sundowns went back to second, above SuperSport United, but could have made use of their game in hand to reduce the gap to seven points.
Instead they had to settle for nine.
Wits, who had four games in hand on Chiefs, reduced that to three and went to fourth, but only reduced their gap with the leaders from 15 to 14.
Sundowns controlled larger periods of play, and the opportunities they opened – requiring a high level of their skill and passing game against a team as difficult to break down as Wits – were the clearer.
But the Clever Boys were always dangerous on the counterattack, and never looked incapable of producing a scoring swift movement when they won the ball.
Sundowns conceded some half-chances in the first half – always a possibility against a frontline as classy as what Wits possess. But they appeared to be in charge of the tempo.
Downs took advantage when Andile Jali made a charge down the right that had the vintage of the midfielder at Orlando Pirates in the early 2010s.
Jali took the ball off Thabang Monare deep on touchline and stormed forward, shrugging off the challenge of Buhle Mkhwanazi.
He squared to find Themba Zwane at the far post, who deftly teed up Sirino inside to strike an easy low finish past goalkeeper Ricardo Goss.
Wits play-maker Haashim Domingo was a danger and forced a save from Denis Onyango almost immediately, and then, from a Deon Hotto cross was free to strike a volley powerfully inches wide.
Wits had troubled Downs with crosses, and tested Onyango. Hotto’s control taking down a trademark long ball on a sixpence from Goss on the left, cutting inside and crossing, was classy – Motupa’s fine diving header to beat Downs’ keeper even more so.
Early in the second half Zwane side-footed Thapelo Morena into space, who struck hard at Goss.
Zwane shook Sifiso Hlanti free on the right and played a one-two with Sphelele Mkhulise into the area, steering a strike across the face.
Sundowns were stretching Wits upping the movement, though the Clever Boys still looked threatening on the counter.
From Sirino’s corner Motjeka Madisha’s header looped onto the upright. At the other end Thulani Hlatshwayo headed Hotto’s corner just over.