Mamelodi Sundowns secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Lamontville Golden Arrows in an Absa Premiership match at the Dobsonville Stadium on Monday evening.
As a result, second-placed Masandawana are now three points behind league log leaders, Kaizer Chiefs ahead of the two giants’ clash on Thursday, while Abafana Bes’thende remained 11th on the log.
Abafana Bes’thende threatened first through their hard-running full-back Siyabonga Dube just three minutes into the encounter.
The 24-year-old player made a good run down the right-hand side before unleashing a shot which was well-saved by Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Sundowns forward Phakamani Mahlambi, who was making his maiden league start of the season, was keen to impress having been preferred ahead of Sibusiso Vilakazi.
The former Al Ahly player unleashed three shots from range which did not trouble Sifiso Mlungwana in the Arrows goal-posts.
Masandawana took control of the match following a cooling break and Mlungwana became a very busy man as the reigning Absa Premiership champions searched for the opening goal.
The bulky goalkeeper produced a fantastic finger-tipping save to deny Rivaldo Coetzee on the half-hour mark, before gathering Mosa Lebusa’s headed effort.
Mlungwana then had to rush off his line to put a stop to Mahlambi’s run just on the edge of the box in the 40th minute and the ball fell kindly for Hlompho Kekana.
The Sundowns captain tried to lob one over Mlungwana, but the ball went over the crossbar and score was 0-0 at the interval.
Mlungwana continued to frustrate the Brazilians after the restart as he pulled off a magnificent diving save to deny Mahlambi a minute into the second-half.
With Abafana Bes’thende’s defence looking solid and compact, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane decided to make a double substitution in the 66th minute as he introduced Themba Zwane and Keletso Makgalwa.
Makgalwa injected some pace into the hosts’ attack, while Zwane was looking to use his dribbling skills and passing ability to unlock the Arrows defence.
The move by accomplished tactician Mosimane paid off when Lebohang Maboe set-up fellow second-half substitute Zwane, who fired past Mlungwane to make it 1-0 to Sundowns in stoppage time.
The Bafana Bafana international’s late strike proved to be the winning goal as Sundowns held onto their lead and ultimately, they emerged 1-0 winners over Arrows.
Sundowns (0) 1 (Zwane 90’+1)
Arrows (0) 0
Sundowns: Mweene, Ngcongca, Lakay, Lebusa, Madisha, Coetzee, Mkhulise (Vilakazi 84′), Kekana, Sirino (Zwane 66′), Mahlambi (Makgalwa 66′, Soumahoro 90’+5), Meza (Maboe 84′).
Arrows: Mlungwana, S.Dube, Ndlovu, Mathiane, Nkombelo (Lunga 71′), Makhubela, L.Dube, Shitolo, Parusnath (Zuke 76′), Gumede (Lamola 71′), Mutizwa.