Pretoria – Kaizer Chiefs went eight points clear at the top of the Premiership standings, courtesy of a first half own-goal from Mamelodi Sundowns' Wayne Arendse at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday evening, as Chiefs ran out 1-0 winners.
The Soweto giants headed into the clash with a five point advantage over their provincial neighbours and just eight minutes into the highly-anticipated affair, Arendse sent the ball into his own net, as Chiefs saw out the result and extended their lead at the summit of the league standings.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter handed new signing George Maluleka his first start for the defending league champions, while the Amakhosi also welcomed back their four Bafana Bafana representatives, which included Itumeleng Khune and Bernard Parker, following South Africa's early exit from the African Nations Championship over the weekend.
Sundowns got off to a flying start and came within a whisker of drawing first blood as early as the third minute, when Teko Modise rifled a long-range effort goalwards, only to be denied by the bottom of the crossbar as the ball bounced straight down but out of danger.
But Chiefs showed their resolve and soon went ahead, with Arendse's error proving costly, allowing the visitors to grab the advantage on eight minutes.
Parker's seemingly harmless free-kick delivery took and awkward bounce, leaving Arendse in two minds as he failed to deal with the ball and knocked the ball into his own net.
Sundowns looked unperturbed and continued to pepper Chiefs' goal, but Mashego could only find Khune, who kept the travelling team ahead thanks to some solid saves in goal.
Arendse was having a hard time at the back and almost cost the Brazilians a second when his headed clearance gifted Chiefs possession, which put Parker through on goal, and the Bafana Bafana striker grazed the uprights as his thunderous effort narrowly missed the target.
Knowledge Musona could have made it two shortly before the break, but his diving effort from a Siboniso Gaxa delivery swept past the upright and went narrowly wide.
Anthony Laffor should have done better a minute later for the home side, but the lanky attacker failed to hit the mark and pushed his diving header wide of Khune's goal, having found himself unmarked and with ample time to pick his spot.
A fiery first half was brought to an end with the visitors taking a nervy one goal advantage into the interval, but Sundowns looked lively on the ball and soon had Laffor threaten the Chiefs back row, Khune making another good stop to down low.
Khama Billiat made a darting run into the Chiefs area a minute later, but once again, Khune was on hand as the last man.
Sundowns were controlling the game and dominated on the attacking front, launching wave after wave of advances into the Glamour Boys' half, but wasteful finishing impeded the home side, who could not manage to unlock their opposition's defence.
When the Brazilians eventually put the ball into the net, their celebrations were cut short, after second-half replacement Cuthbert Malajila scored from an offside position.
Khune's brilliant performance in goal continued, making two crucial saves in the space of two minutes to deny Malajila and Sundowns skipper Alje Schut as the clock wound down. – Sapa