Mamelodi Sundowns proved that they are the real super club of South African football after claiming a 2-1 Premiership victory over Black Leopards on Tuesday – just a few days following their Caf Champions League semi-final in Morocco.
The vital three points mean that Masandawana are now level with Orlando Pirates on 53 points at the top of the log after 28 matches.
Only a better goal difference of four sees the Buccaneers in the first position, with two more games to go.
But while Pirates are still ahead by the narrowest of margins, credit to Sundowns for the character they showed at a boisterous Thohoyandou Stadium.
They lost 2-1 to Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the Caf Champions League semi-final in Rabat last Friday night.
Not only did they have to travel home, they had to make the lengthy trek to Limpopo – it takes over five hours by road from Atteridgeville to Thohoyandou – for Tuesday night’s match.
Coach Pitso Mosimane, in praising his players after the match, spoke about how his team had to “manage” the game due to their hectic schedule.
But champion teams pull out the results and performances when it is needed most, and that’s what the Brazilians achieved against Leopards.
The breakthrough, from Uruguayan star Gaston Sirino, came from a mistake by Lidoda Duvha captain Jean Munganga, whose header went backwards towards his own goal.
The nippy Sirino pounced and produced a cool finish to put Sundowns 1-0 up after 27 minutes.
That would’ve provided the necessary relief to Mosimane and his team, as they all wanted were the three points on offer.
Denis Onyango also made a number of fine saves to keep Leopards at bay, and the critical moment for Sundowns came after the hour mark in the second half.
Thapelo Morena provided the perfect chip across the penalty area, and Tebogo Langerman ranged up on the left to fire the ball into the net for the second goal.
Sundowns managed to stem the Leopards tide for the rest of the match, until Tumelo Khutlang scored a consolation goal for the hosts in stoppage time.
Rivaldo Coetzee was named the Man of the Match for a sterling display as a midfielder, but all that mattered for Sundowns on the night was the three points.
Now their almost non-stop roller-coaster ride continues to the Caf Champions League, where they will face Wydad Casablanca in the second leg semi-final on Saturday in Atteridgeville (3pm kickoff).