Mamelodi Sundowns missed the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership table to three points following their goalless draw with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Tuesday.
Sundowns made one change to their squad as Kermit Erasmus came into the starting lineup to replace Gaston Sirino, while Celtic were without the services of captain Ndumiso Mabena and Mzwanele Mahashe.
The Brazilians got off to a bright start as they moved the ball around the back through the midfield as they looked to create their first opportunity.
Sundowns had a scoring chance in the eighth minute when Mothobi Mvala and Tebogo Langerman combined well down the left flank, before Langerman delivered a ball into the box that troubled Celtic keeper Jackson Mabokgwane but curled away.
The home side continued to press forward after 15 minutes as Themba Zwane attempted to find Peter Shalulile in the box with a neat back- heel flick, but the attacker’s pass was directed just ahead of the striker.
Mvala should have made it 1-0 seven minutes later when he latched on to an inch-perfect ball from Zwane in the air, but his header sailed wide of goal.
Sundowns had two opportunities in quick succession to break the deadlock in the 29th minute but Kermit Erasmus’ shot was blocked before Zwane’s shot hit the side netting.
Mabokgwane was again called into action in the 36th minute when he did well to deny Erasmus’ shot at goal.
At the other end, Siphelele Luthuli should’ve put his side ahead a minute later but was denied by Langerman, who came back to clear the ball away from danger.
Neither side were able to break the deadlock in the first half as the game went into the break locked at 0-0.
Sundowns thought they had opened the scoring early in the second half when Shalulile found the back of the net from a Langerman free kick, but the linesman flagged as the ball struck the arm of the Sundowns striker.
Erasmus came close to breaking the deadlock in the 57th minute but the striker’s left footed shot rattled off the crossbar.
Celtic then had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later but the assistant referee flagged their goal for offside.
It was end-to-end action in the 66th minute when Mvala saw his header sail wide of goal from a George Maluleka corner, before Sera Motebang forced Denis Onyango into making an acrobatic save at the other end.
Sundowns then opted for fresh legs making a triple substitution in the 70th minute as Mvala, Zwane and Langerman made way for Gaston Sirino, Lesedi Kapinga and Aubrey Modiba, respectively.
The home side should have taken the lead three minutes later but substitute goalkeeper Sipho Chaine did well to deny Erasmus’ effort from close range, before Kapinga saw his effort saved by the Celtic goalkeeper moments later.
The Brazilians were forced into making a change in the 81st minute when Brain Onyango was stretchered off after picking up an injury and subsequently replaced by Kaketso Majadibodu, before Keletso Makgalwa came on for Erasmus.
Sirino had a chance to grab the winner with two minutes left to play but his low-driven cross led to a goalmouth scramble, which Shalulile nearly capitalised on but Chaine gathered the ball before the Sundowns attacker could poke it home.
Both teams pressed forward in the closing stages as they went in search of the winning goal but were forced to settle for a point each.
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