- A fifteenth successive win for Masandawana
- Bucs' three-match winning run came to an end
- Both teams turn their attention to the Nedbank Cup
WHAT HAPPENED?: Masandawana completed a league double over the Buccaneers at Orlando Stadium, having brushed aside the Soweto giants 2-0 at home in the first round clash last December.
It took just six minutes for Sundowns to take the lead when Themba Zwane set-up Cassius Mailula who beat goalkeeper Sipho Chaine with a hard and low shot.
The hosts responded by applying pressure on the PSL champions who nearly conceded an own-goal when Grant Kekana's header was finger-tipped over the crossbar by keeper Ronwen Williams - ensuring that the first-half ended with Sundowns leading.
Pirates continued to control the match after the restart and Vincent Pule was unlucky not to score when he hit the upright with a low shot, before Williams denied Bandile Shandu from the rebound.
Masandawana were then able to contain the home side and Maluila had a chance to snatch a late goal, but he was brilliantly denied by Chaine and ultimately, the game ended in a 1-0 win in favour of Sundowns.
ALL EYES ON: Mailula, as the promising forward was recalled to the starting line-up and he vindicated his selection.
The 21-year-old netted the only goal of the match having been a constant threat to the Bucs defence during his time on the pitch.
He also reached double figures in terms of goals (10) scored this term from 16 matches across all competitions in what his dream debut season as a professional footballer.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: It is a PSL record-extending 15th consecutive victory for Sundowns. Coach Rhulani Mokwena's side has also set a new record for successive wins by a PSL team from the start of a calendar year as they have now won eight games in a row in 2023.
Furthermore, the win saw Masandawana open a 24-point lead at the top of the standings, but second-placed Richards Bay have two games in hand.
Pirates, on the other hand, remained fourth on the standings after their three-match winning run came to an end and they are 27 points behind run-away leaders Sundowns.
However, the Buccaneers are a point behind third-placed SuperSport United as coach Jose Riveiro's side targets a top three finish in order to qualify for a Caf club tournament.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR PIRATES AND SUNDOWNS?: Both teams turn their attention to their Nedbank Cup Last 32 fixtures.
Masandawana are set to play host to Richards Bay in Tshwane on Tuesday, while the Buccaneers will be away to NFD side All Stars on February 11.