The Brazilians travelled to Johannesburg looking to avenge their previous defeat to Chiefs as the two sides locked horns at a packed FNB Stadium.
With only five points separating Sundowns and Chiefs at the top of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) table, all eyes were firmly focused on the encounter, and both Steve Komphela and Pitso Mosimane were taking no chances as they opted for their strongest starting XI.
On the side of Chiefs, Komphela decided not to field former Sundowns attacker Leonardo Castro from the start, while Joseph Molangoane missed the clash through suspension.
Mosimane though, was looking for consistency as he named a similar line-up to the team that beat Platinum Stars. Captain Hlompho Kekana returned to the starting XI, but there was no place for any of Sundowns’ new signings who all had to settle for a place on the bench.
As expected, the clash was a lively encounter. Following a 15-minute delay to kick-off due to the congestion outside the stadium, Masandawana got the clash underway to a frenetic start. Some good work from Khama Billiat could have easily seen Sundowns open the scoring early on, but the Zimbabwean’s rasping cross eluded Sibusiso Vilakazi’s right boot as Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune collected the loose ball.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Sundowns keeper Denis Onyango was almost left with egg on his face after he completely miscued his clearance which eventually saw Dumisani Zuma with a glorious chance on goal, but to the relief of the Uganda international, the attacker’s attempt was deflected wide by Ricardo Nascimento.
Zuma was a lively character throughout the half and with 20 minutes played, he was again in the thick of things as his long-range effort tested Onyango. The Sundowns defenders were living dangerously, and minutes later, Siphiwe Tshabalala’s cross deflected off Bangaly Soumahoro and cannoned off the crossbar with Onyango rooted to the spot.
With time running out in the first half, Percy Tau had arguably Sundowns’ best chance on goal. The 23-year-old latched onto a dangerous long ball which was poorly cleared by Daniel Cardoso, but his header was far too close to Khune as the Chiefs goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
The first half turned into a cagey affair and despite Sundowns ending the half the brighter of the two teams, they could not find the back of the net as they went into the break deadlocked.
The opening minutes of the second half was more of the same as the game failed to open up.
While Sundowns looked threatening, they were severely let down by their final ball, leading Mosimane to bring on star striker Jeremy Brockie just before the hour-mark. The substitution injected new life into the clash as the 30-year-old looked to feed off the creativity of Billiat and Tau.
However, possession was still being turned over far too often by both sides, and clear goalscoring opportunities were at a premium to the frustration of the 70 000 fans in attendance.
In response, Komphela gave the Chiefs fans what they wanted as Castro was given a run against his former side.
The Colombian marksman did well in his role as a target man, but he was often far too isolated.
However, the attention on Castro allowed George Maluleka to find space just outside the area and unleash a shot from distance which was easily saved by Onyango.
Although, Chiefs were looking comfortable, the threat which the Sundowns attack posed was always there and Brockie came all so close to an opener, as he came within a whisker of getting a touch on a delightful cross.
With less than 15 minutes remaining, Sundowns were looking to steal the three points, and they came very close to achieving that when Tau showed great technique as his volley came off the woodwork, before Brockie’s powerful shot from the rebound left Khune standing, only to hit the crossbar.
Try as both sides did, they could not find the winning goal and the match ended in a goalless draw, much to the disappointment of the crowd, although Sundowns fans would be happy given the five-point gap between them and Chiefs.