A penalty from Siyabonga Nomvethe proved to be the decisive moment in a match largely dominated by the hosts
Sundowns, unbeaten in 2013, was aiming to enter into the top 8 of the PSL for the first time this season and away from the almost unthinkable foot of the table with a victory against Swallows, but it was not to be for Pitso Mosimane’s side with their coach suffering his first defeat in charge of the team.
Sundowns lost Method Mwanjale after the defender cut down David Mathebula in the 35th minute and Swallows took the lead via a calm penalty-kick from Siyabonga Nomvethe, which secured a vital win for the Dube Birds. But it was not a clear-cut victory for the visitors, who had to defend with desperation against a rampant Sundowns outfit throughout the second half of the match.
The Brazilians should have gone into the lead as early as the 4th minute, when Anthony Laffor found the goal at his mercy, after being released by a slick ball provided by the influential Teko Modise. But Laffor lacked the necessary composure when he blasted his attempt into the stands.
The game was largely controlled by Sundowns in the opening period, but the hosts struggled to find their finishing touch in the final third, as the Dube Birds settled into a defensive, counter-attacking mind-set.
Swallows lost their captain Lefa Tsutsulupa to injury in the 25th minute, as he was replaced by Bennet Chenene after limping off the pitch.
As the first half entered its final fifteen minutes, frustration grew within Loftus Versveld as Sundowns continued to spurn good opportunities in their attacking third.
The Brazilians were eventually punished for their wasteful play, as Method Mwanjale brought down David Mathebula in the box, after the striker surged into the area with intent. Mwanjale’s poor challenge resulted in a straight red for the defender and a spot-kick for Swallows, which Siyabonga Nomvethe finished with aplomb into the bottom right corner of the net.
Pitso Mosimane immediately replaced Anthony Laffor with Thamsanqa Sangweni in order to provide more defensive cover after the loss of Mwanjale.
Sundowns, arguably the better side during the opening stanza went into the break a goal behind and reduced to 10 men, with Mosimane facing his first defeat as Brazilians coach.
Sundowns came out firing in the second half and continuously looked dangerous when pushing forward, despite their disadvantage in numbers. Esrom Nyandoro unleashed a drive from range, which whistled over the crossbar displaying the host’s intent to find a goal.
With half an hour to go the match began to open up as the Brazilians searched desperately for the equaliser, while Swallows hit them on the counter-attack with effective pace but a lack of composure at times.
With twenty minutes to go, Zeca Marques brought on top-scorer Katlego Mashego, as Swallows aimed to drive the nail in the coffin against their depleted opponents.
But it was Sundowns who created an excellent chance minutes later as Katlego Mphela set-up Nyasha Mushekwi with a looping ball. The striker attempted to hit a volley towards goal, but his effort skewed off his boot and went just wide.
Sundowns continued to pile on the pressure as the match entered its final minutes, but Pitso Mosimane’s side failed to stave off his first defeat as coach. Swallows move ahead of Sundowns on the PSL log, with the former Bafana Bafana coach leaving his home stadium a figure of frustration.