Referee Victor Gomes stole the headlines in Saturday's Premiership clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town at Loftus Versfeld, awarding an astonishing five penalties
Mamelodi Sundowns walked away 3-2 winners in Pretoria in a match that saw no less than five spot-kicks.
Sundowns benefitted with three of the five spot-kicks, but only managed to tuck one away, courtesy of Katlego Mashego's 33rd minute strike.
By then, Sundowns had missed their first, after Teko Modise's effort was saved, while Ajax dispatched their only penalty, thanks to Nathan Paulse's successful conversion before the interval.
Shortly after the break, Gomes was at it again, pointing to the white dot on 55 minutes, which -- like the first -- did not materialise as Mashego squandered a chance to bag his second of the night.
But that would not be the end of the referee's influence, as Gomes blew for a fifth penalty on 90 minutes, again for handball, which Ajax's Lance Davids scored to edge closer but fell short at 3-2.
Meanwhile, Thabo Nthethe scored his first goal for the Brazilians after completing a move to the big-spending Gauteng side at the end of January, while Anthony Laffor added the third from the bench, as the Pretoria outfit saw out the thrilling scoreline.
The home side dominated the early exchanges, as the Urban Warriors struggled to get a touch to the ball, allowing Sundowns to pay regular visits into the final third.
Ajax, however, were resolute in defence and frustrated the hosts, who could not manage to break down the back four.
Ajax goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola was forced to make a superb save in the 14th minute, after Bryce Moon's dangerous delivery into the area found an advancing Katlego Mashego, who seemed destined to tap in, but was denied by the Finnish shot-stopper.
Four minutes later, Sundowns missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Thulani Hlatshwayo was adjudged to have brought down Teko Modise in the area, prompting referee Victor Gomes to point to the penalty spot, to the disbelief of the Ajax defender, who felt the decision was harsh.
Modise, though, would be further frustrated when Jaakkola pulled off a second crucial save, as he dove to his right and kept out the low thunderbolt from the man that was brought down seconds earlier.
But the pressure kept coming and eventually resulted in Sundowns' opener in the 27th minute, as Nthethe headed home from Modise's free-kick, opening his account at Sundowns, three games into his tenure with the Brazilians.
The game was surrounded by controversy shortly after as Gomes awarded a second penalty to Sundowns, this time Granwald Scott the guilty party, as he was whistled for clipping midfielder Bongani Zungu.
On second inspection, the decision looked dubious, with Zungu appearing to have made the most of minimal contact from Scott, while the foul also appeared to have taken place outside of the box.
Mashego, nevertheless, was unperturbed and stuck the ball past Jaakkola for Downs' second, taking his personal tally to seven for the season.
Ajax were going nowhere and three minutes from the break, Bongani Zungu struck the upright and narrowly missed out on the night's third.
An action-packed opening half came to an end in characteristically controversial fashion, as Gomes went on to complete a hat-trick of penalties, awarding an incredible third spot-kick to Ajax, after Sundowns skipper Alje Schut was singled out for interfering with an Ajax attacker in the air.
Paulse eased some of the misery and pulled one back for the Cape outfit on the stroke of half-time, scoring from the spot, as Ajax found a way back into the tie.
The second half started much the same as the first, and it took just 10 minutes for an unbelievable fourth penalty to be awarded, again to Sundowns.
Gomes did not hesitate as he pointed to the spot, after blowing for a handball in the box, Scott once more the transgressor.
Mashego stepped up confidently and blasted goalwards, but he too would be unsuccessful, as the crossbar came to the rescue for the Urban Warriors and kept them in the running for a point.
Normality was restored on 76 minutes when second half replacement Laffor headed home Sundowns' third from a pinpoint corner delivery, which allowed the lanky winger to steer his effort past Jaakkola at the near post, restoring the hosts' two-goal cushion.
Davids netted the last penalty of the game, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.