A 90th-minute winner from Themba Zwane handed Mamelodi Sundowns a 1-0 victory over Golden Arrows to put the Brazilians just three points behind Kaizer Chiefs ahead of Thursday’s title decider.
Sundowns came into the game knowing that they could cut Kaizer Chiefs’ lead at the top of the league to just three points before their potential decider on Thursday evening.
Pitso Mosimane, though, was forced into a few changes as Denis Onyango missed out with a hamstring injury while Ricardo Nascimento and Andile Jali were missing due to suspensions. Kennedy Mweene, Mosa Lebusa and Rivaldo Coetzee were drafted in as replacements, while Phakamani Mahlambi also got a rare start.
Arrows, on the other hand, were looking to spoil the party and continue a push for a top-eight finish.
Downs looked to start on the front foot and Mahlambi showed their intention in the second minute as his looping strike from just outside the box sailed over the bar.
Both sides were struggling to carve out clear-cut chances with Coetzee having the only other opportunity in the opening 30 minutes, as he forced shotstopper Sifiso Mlungwana into a great reflex save following a header from a corner.
Mahalmabi had another chance five minutes before the interval as he burst into the box but was denied by Mlungwana, while Hlompho Kekana was unable to hit the target on the rebound as the Arrows shotstopper scrambled back to his line.
The score was 0-0 at the break, with the game firmly in the balance.
Sundowns tried to force this issue at the start of the second half, but were again met by a well-drilled Steve Komphela side making matters difficult.
Mosimane then turned to the bench as he brought on Themba Zwane and Keletso Makgwala in search of something different.
The duo almost made an instant impact as the ball was played towards the back post moments later, but the substitutes seemed to get in each other’s way as the chance slipped by.
Mosimane then brought on further firepower in Lebohang Maboe and Sibusiso Vilakazi, with seven minutes to go.
The Downs coache’s changes eventually paid off on the 90th-minute mark as Maboe picked out Zwane’s late run into the box and the Bafana Bafana star made no mistake in sweeping his shot into the bottom corner.
Sundowns managed to hold on for a massive three points, which now puts them within striking distance of Kaizer Chiefs ahead of Thursday.
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