ATTERIDGEVILLE – The result of this once bitter rivalry was never really in doubt – it was just the winning margin that Mamelodi Sundowns would triumph by that was always going to be a guessing game.
And Sundowns didn’t disappoint, particularly in the first half of the Tshwane Derby, as they sealed a 2-1 victory against city rivals SuperSport United at the Lucas Moriope Stadium in Atteridgeville on Sunday.
It was in those 45 minutes from kickoff that the defending champions showed their class and took the game away from United.
Lebohang Maboe and Lyle Lakay’s goals were enough to secure them three points and bring them within two of Orlando Pirates, who sit precariously at the summit of the standings.
What made Sundowns’ performance in the first half even more remarkable was the fact that it was done in trying conditions, with an unexpected highveld thunderstorm threatening to have the fixture called off.
But Masandawana seemed to thrive in the adverse conditions, with their attacks being just as fierce and persistent as the downpour and darkness that had engulfed Atteridgeville.
And they were well rewarded with two goals, but they could have scored more had the likes of Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane missed what would have ordinarily been routine goals on a drier and controlled turf.
Sirino and Zwane weren’t the only ones struggling with their radar, as New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie also looked unsure of himself in front of goal, and was a shadow of the lethal strike force when he still wore the colours of United.
While Sundowns bossed proceedings and were in full control of the game, Matsatsantsa a Pitori were crumbling.
Besides looking sterile on attack, they were losing every battle on the pitch, which resulted in coach Kaitano Tembo making two substitutions before halftime.
Even though it has been five years and 12 matches since their last triumph over Sundowns, the home side refused to throw in the towel, and came out guns blazing in the second stanza.
At the heart of all that, United conjured up was the evergreen Reneilwe Letsholonyane, whose timely passes to his strike force unsettled Sundowns midway through the second half and had threatened to write a new and different chapter in the outcome of this derby.
United finally struck back with a Morgan Gould goal from a well taken free kick by substitute Aubrey Modiba, but the hosts failed to turn the heat up as the heavens cleared to allow for a pulsating finish to the game.
In the end, Sundowns walked away with the spoils once again, and it left no doubt about who the kings of Tshwane are.
They are now just two points away from returning to their throne as the rulers of South African football.