Sundowns looked to continue their winning run and move further away from the Premier Soccer League (PSL) chasing pack as they hosted Cape Town City on Tuesday evening. The clash was a potential banana skin for Masandawana as last season, City did the double over their more illustrious opponents.
This led to Pitso Mosimane only making two changes to the side which impressively defeated Bloemfontein Celtic last weekend. Siyanda Zwane was given a rare start, while Tebogo Langerman returned from suspension.
Meanwhile, City themselves were looking to build on their recent success, and Benni McCarthy looked to utilise City’s attacking strength with Lyle Lakay most notably returning to the starting XI.
The game began as a rather dull and tentative affair with chances at a premium. That was until about the 20th minute when the Brazilians finally began to find their mojo around the final third. Sundowns’ Thokozani Sekotlong had the game’s first real chance on goal, but his left footed drive flew just wide of Sage Stephens’ goal.
At the other end, the Citizens were going toe-to-toe with the log leaders, and Lakay saw his cross-come shot flash across the face of goal. City were profiting from the counter attack and with 27 minutes on the clock it was them who took the lead. Akosah-Bempah was teed up in the box by Aubrey Ngoma, and the forward made no mistake as he placed his effort past Denis Onyango. The goal came as a sucker punch for the home side who were the dominant outfit until that point.
Nonetheless, Sundowns would have to to wait over half an hour for their first shot on target as Tau fired straight at the City shot-stopper. Minutes later, Stephens was forced into a great save as Hlompho Kekana tested him with a dangerous freekick, but he did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Before the break, City had a golden chance to double their advantage but Onyango came up with the goods as he denied Roland Putsche. While City were the happier of the two sides going into the break, they were dealt a blow before the interval as Aubrey Ngoma was stretchered off with an injury.
The playmaker’s woes meant that Teko Modise would get the opportunity to face up against his former team for the very first time since making his sensational move as he came on at the start of the second half.
The veteran’s introduction meant that City needed to adjust their style of play. While they lacked the pace of the winger, Modise brought with him composure which came in handy as they looked to hold onto their lead. With an hour played, Sundowns coach Mosimane was certainly a frustrated man as his side failed to create anything of substance, and could have easily fallen even further behind had Thamsanqa Mkhize not blasted his effort over the bar from in front of the City goal after some great work from Craig Martin.
However, Sundowns were not giving up and Thapelo Morena saw his powerful shot saved by Stephens following a superb pass by Tau. The Brazilians began to build a head of steam, and they felt aggrieved when Tau and Kekana were both brought down in the box only for their appeals to fall onto deaf ears.
In a late throw of the dice, Mosimane threw on Yannick Zakri but the Ivorian was a kept quiet by City’s resolute defending. With time running out, Sundowns left themselves vulnerable as they threw men forward and Onyango would again be called into action as he held onto a stinging drive by Putsche, keeping Sundowns in the game.
While Sundowns gave it their all, they could not breach City’s resistance as the away side held on for the victory, proving once again to be Sundowns’ bogey team.