PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns struggled to hit their usual high standards and had to settle for a 0-0 league stalemate against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The draw leaves Sundowns two points above second-placed Bidvest Wits, who play Cape Town City later on Saturday.
Masandawana were always in control of the match, but for the most part failed to find their usual cut and thrust in attack and rarely looked like scoring.
Their best chance of the opening stanza came in the 14th minute, when Gaston Sirino crossed for Themba Zwane, whose close range shot was blocked by Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb.
There were also a couple of opportunities for Lebohang Maboe, but the first missed the target and the second was easily dealt with by Tignyemb.
Instead, the biggest talking point came right at the end of the opening half when Phunya Sele Sele defender Wandisile Letlabika came off second best in an aerial duel with Hlompho Kekana and ended up crashing head first into the upright.
Letlabika was treated on the field for over 10 minutes, regaining consciousness before being taken off to the hospital, where he is expected to spend the night under observation before being released on Sunday.
After Sirino had gone close with a free kick nine minutes into the second half, the Free State side finally had their first clear chance of the game when Tshegofatso Mabasa combined nicely with Tebogo Pontsane before getting away a shot from 10-yards out, but 'Downs keeper Kennedy Mweene made an excellent reflex save with his feet.
The Brazilians needed a moment of magic to turn around a somewhat flat performance and that looked to have arrived in the 74th minute when Anthony Laffor played in a delightful ball to Sirino, but from eight yards out he lost his cool and completely missed the target.
Tignyemb made a brave save late on to keep out Emiliano Tade, before Laffor sent a volley wide in the 93rd minute in what was Sundowns' last chance to claim maximum points.
African News Agency (ANA)