AMAZULU were able to hold title chasing Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw in an Absa Premiership match at the King Zwelithini stadium last night.
The goals were scored by Katlego Mphela, his 13th of the season, and Sibusiso Hadebe.
The result virtually sees Sundowns title hopes blow up in smokes as they now trail league leaders Ajax Cape Town by four points with two games in hand.
The first 45 minutes saw AmaZulu get the better of the opening exchanges, but as the half progressed the Brazilians found their footing in the match and started dictating terms.
Sundowns showed their class with some sublime passing, but still they struggled to break down the Usuthu defence. In fact neither side’s goalkeeper was tested in the first half an hour.
That was until the 33rd minute when Katlego Mphela opened the scoring and AmaZulu’s Mbongeni Mzimela first real action was picking the ball out of the back of his own net.
A great move down the left by Sundowns saw Mathew Pattison driving down the wing before he supplied a pin-point cross to find Mphela inside the box. The striker did not disappoint with a powerful header into the top right-hand corner, 1-0.
Thereafter ‘Downs dominated the possession stakes and should have created more chances in front of goal. Instead, a lapse of concentration at the back saw the Brazilians conceded a goal just before the half time break.
Sibusiso Hadebe whipped in a free-kick from the right side of the field and as Sundowns’ Siyanda Xulu tried to clear the danger he only succeeded in deflecting the ball past his own goalkeeper, 1-1.
The second half started very similar to the first as there was very little goal mouth action. The game, though, did spring into life in the 70th minute as the Brazilians went in search of the winning goal.
Two substitutes in the form of Lebohang Mokoena and Mabhuti Khenyeza combined to create a good scoring chance. Mokoena drove down the right flank and provided a dangerous low cross to find Khenyeza inside the box, but Mzimela produced a fine save diving to his right.
Three minutes later and Mphela should really have given his side the lead. The striker latched onto a loose ball after a goal mouth scramble, but he dragged his shot wide from ten yards out.
In the 81st minute AmaZulu nearly stole the lead against the run of play when Belux Kasonga met a cross from the right, but he saw his header cleared off the goal line by Method Mwanjali, heading the ball onto the underside of the crossbar before fully clearing the danger.
Sundowns pressed hard in the final ten minutes, but they failed to find the goal that would keep them in the title race as AmaZulu and the Brazilians shared the spoils.-Backpagepix