Mamelodi Sundowns secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Sekhukhune United in a PSL encounter which was played at Emirates Airline Park on Tuesday evening.
Two goals from Aubrey Modiba and Peter Shalulile propelled the Tshwane giants to a well-deserved win which will serve as a morale-booster ahead of their titanic clash with Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday.
Sundowns completed a league double over Sekhukhune having also claimed a 2-0 win in the first round league encounter in Tshwane in November last year.
Riyaad Pieterse, Sphelele Mkhulise, Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane were the four players who were recalled to the starting line-up as Sundowns played their first league game since they clinched this season's PSL championship last week.
Masandawana had ended their three-match winless run across all competitions when they defeated Royal AM 2-1 in the Nedbank Cup clash on Saturday.
On the other hand, Sekhukhune adopted a defensive approach under co-coaches Owen Da Gama and MacDonald Makhubedu with three holding midfielders Katlego Molaba, Yusuf Maart and Seth Parusnath starting, while Chibuike Ohizu was deployed as a lone striker.
Babina Noko were desperate to snap their seven-match winless run, but they had failed to score in their last three matches in the league.
Sundowns dominated the game from the start with Sekhukhune giving away chances, but the visitors couldn't keep their attempts on target.
Mkhulise through pass found an unmarked Modiba, who placed his shot over the crossbar, before Sirino unleashed a fierce shot which shaved the top of the net with goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata rooted to the ground.
Babina Noko were awarded a free-kick in a promising area after a rare attack by the 2020/21 National First Division champions. Maart's shot from the resultant set-piece was spilt by goalkeeper Pieterse, but the former Kaizer Chiefs star recovered quickly and snatched the ball away before on-rushing Ohizu could pounce and score from close range.
This served as a wake-up call for Sundowns who then broke the deadlock in the 28th minute through Modiba after some great work by Zwane, who dribbled past his marker before setting up the left-back.
Modiba beat Nsabata with a piledriver from outside the box to make it 1-0 to the visitors as he made it two goals in as many matches for the Tshwane giants.
Sekhukhune could only threaten from set-pieces as Roderick Kabwe forced Pieterse into a diving save from a well-taken free-kick.
At the other end, Neo Maema was denied by Nsabata, who was well-positioned to make a save from close range and the score was 1-0 to Sundowns during the half-time break.
Babina Noko started the second half brightly with a lot of crosses being played into the visitors' box from wide areas. Vusimuzi Mncube's top-notch cross from the right found Nkanyiso Mandonsela at the back post, but the 31-year-old headed the ball straight into Pieterse's hands as the hosts sent a warning to Masandawana.
Sundowns responded by piling pressure on the home side and Peter Shalulile should have increased his tally at the top of the PSL's goalscoring charts, but he failed to keep his header on target from close range.
Nsabata then produced a fantastic save to deny Sirino at the near-post in the closing stages of the match with co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena having introduced Thabiso Kutumela.
However, Nsabata was beaten in stoppage time when Shalulile picked up a pass from Kutumela inside the hosts' box, before firing past the Zambia keeper to seal Sundowns' well-deserved 2-0 win.
It was the Namibia international's 22nd goal of the current term and he needs three more to equal the record for the most goals scored in a single PSL season which is held by Chiefs legend Collins Mbesuma.
Sundowns opened a 16-point lead at the top of the league standings having already clinched the title and they will now take on Chiefs in a blockbuster clash this weekend.
On the other hand, Sekhukhune remained 10th on the log and they are scheduled to face AmaZulu on Saturday.