Sundowns looked to make it two wins on the trot when they hosted Polokwane City on Tuesday evening. Masandawana went into the clash full of confidence following their domineering display against SuperSport United on the weekend, and coach Pitso Mosimane opted against making too many changes ahead of the of the game.
Mosimane chose to give new signing Thokozani Sekotlong his debut in the absence of Khama Billiat, who was ruled out with a flu. But Sundowns were given a boost ahead of kick-off as playmaker Themba Zwane was declared fit despite a late injury scare.
Meanwhile, Rise and Shine were desperate to come away from Tshwane with a positive result. City coach Bernard Molekwa made only one change to his starting XI, and once again relied on Jabulani Maluleke and Rodney Ramagalela for the creative spark.
Nonetheless, the match got off to a slow start with both sides content to put their foot on the ball. Sundowns first real chance on goal came in the fifth minute, but Sekotlong’s long-range drive was comfortably dealt with by City keeper George Chigova. At the other hand, Ramagalela tried his luck from outside the box but his effort went just wide of the upright.
The combination of Sekotlong and Tau was causing the City defence all sorts of headaches and with just under 20 minutes played, Sekotlong came within a whisker of bagging a goal on debut. Tau superbly placed the ball on a plate for the debutant, but he fluffed his chance from point-blank range. Minutes later, Sekotlong was once again in the thick of things but on this occasion, he failed to slide the ball past Chigova. It was turning into a nightmarish debut for the 26-year-old, who again found himself unmarked in the box, but this time he fired his effort over the bar.
Sundowns coach Mosimane was growing frustrated on the side lines as his side continued to squander several chances, and if it wasn’t for a brilliant last ditch tackle by Motjeka Madisha, the 53-year-old’s misery could have been further compiled.
However, with 36 minutes on the clock Sundowns were eventually made to rue their missed chances as Ramagalela gave City the lead with a shot from close range. The goal reignited the Sundowns attack and had it not been for Chigova they would have gone into the half-time interval level.
Although, the second half saw Sundowns continue to dominate possession, it was City who came closest to adding to their lead. On the 48-minute mark, Denis Onyango was forced into a fantastic save when Thabang Klaas beat the offside trap and found himself with only the Ugandan keeper to beat.
Sundowns pressure eventually paid dividence in the 54th minute as Thapelo Tshilo was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. George Lebese stepped up and calmly slotted the resultant penalty past the despairing Chigova. With over an hour played, Madisha had an opportunity to put Sundowns in the lead for the first time on the night, but his header was straight at Chigova from close range.
Nevertheless, Sundowns were forced to chase the game once again with 20 minutes remaining, when Ramagalela banged home his second goal of the night. It was a truly opportunistic finish from the Brazilians former striker as he volleyed his effort past Onyango from way outside the area.
In an effort to rescue the game, Mosimane threw on both Yannick Zakri and Anthony Laffor, but the duo’s introduction made little impact as City held on for an impressive victory.