Result: Mamelodi Sundowns 4-3 AmaZulu
Date: 22 November 2020
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium
Themba Zwane bagged an 11-minute hat-trick in the first half as Mamelodi Sundowns edged AmaZulu in a seven-goal thriller on Sunday afternoon.
Sundowns had two enforced changes due to injuries, as goalkeeper Denis Onyango and Siphelele Mkhulise dropped out of the line-up and were replaced by shot-stopper Kennedy Mweene and Lebohang Maboe.
Usuthu were pressing the hosts high early on and the tactic paid off in the 15th minute after Ricardo Nascimento's back pass towards Mweene was intercepted by Lehlohonolo Majoro, who chiped the Zambian shot-stopper for the opener.
Masandawana responded four minutes later after Zwane went through on goal from Peter Shalulile's pass and fired a low strike past goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha.
Zwane gave the Brazilians the lead in the 21st minute with a crisp left-footed curler from the edge of the box into the far post for his second goal of the game.
Nine minutes later, the Bafana Bafana star the completed his hat-trick with a side-footed shot into the bottom corner inside the six-yard box after he was unselfishly teed up by Erasmus.
Nascimento made another sloppy mistake barely three minutes inside the second stanza after casually handling the ball inside the box, which allowed Luvuyo Memela to pull a goal back for Usuthu from the penalty spot, although from the rebound after his initial strike was saved by Mweene.
Peter Shalulile restored a two-goal cushion for Sundowns just before the hour-mark with a header into a gaping net from Lyle Lakay's corner after Mbatha came out and missed the flight of the ball.
Sandile Khumalo reduced the deficit for Ayanda Dlamini's troops on the hour-mark from an almost similar situation with a header past Mweene after the Zambian came out for a cross and changed his mind midway.
Shalulile had a chance to make it 5-3 for Masandawana in the last 20 minutes after getting a free header at the back post but his effort missed the bottom corner slightly wide, with Zwane arriving a second late on the rebound.
Sundowns were threatening to kill off the game and Mbatha pulled off two great saves in the last 13 minutes in quick succession to parry over Kermit Erasmus' dipping strike and saved a close-range header by Nascimento.
Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena's charges were on a defensive mode in the closing minutes, as they managed to see out a result to move two points clear at the top of the log.
Here's how they lined up:
Sundowns: 1. Mweene, 27. Morena, 7. Lakay, 3. Nascimento, 32. Madisha, 15. Jali, 40. Coetzee, 33. Maboe, 11. Erasmus, 18. Zwane, 38. Shalulile
Subs: 20. Goss, 25. Mudau, 5. Lebusa, 12. Maluleka, 8. Kekana, 4. Langerman, 23. Domingo, 32. Mkhuma, 23. Makgalwa.
AmaZulu: 28. Mbatha, 17. Gumede, 29. Mabiliso. 32. Khumalo, 4. Booysen, 8. Makhaula, 10. Sithebe, 23. Mlambo, 15. Memela, 30. Mulenga, 20. Majoro.
Subs: 43. Boshoff, 27. Xoki, 3. Mandela, 5. Sikhakhane, Magaqa, 33. Darpoh, 11. Magubane, 19. Chawapihwa, 45. Ntsundwana.
With the transfer window still open, a few more Downs players could be leaving Chloorkop...