For some time it appeared as if Mamelodi Sundowns were going to drop two crucial home points with a pedestrian display but they dug deep to eventually overpower and beat Ajax Cape Town 2-0 in Pretoria on Tuesday night.
As championship sides often do, the Brazilians improved from their sluggish first half which irked their impatient supporters to move to second spot on the log with 47 points.
The breakthrough came from the boot of midfielder Percy Tau in the 68th minute after he received the ball in the Ajax danger area from Khama Billiat who got the better of Erwin Isaacs in the middle of the part.
Before he turned hero, Tau was the villain as he was subject to shouts of displeasure from his own fans who were not happy with the way he squandered many scoring opportunities.
A few minutes later, Billiat could have turned the finisher but missed a sitter from close range as he missed the target after he received the ball from Thapelo Morema with Ajax in disarray at the back.
It was not long before the Brazilians increased their lead and this time it was the turn of Themba Zwane to kiss the back of the net in the 73rd minute when he finished a pass from substitute Anthony Laffor.
As a result of this victory, the Brazilians have accumulated 47 points on the Absa Premiership standings and they trail top placed Cape Town City by two points but the Brazilians have two games in hand.
In their next match two league matches, Sundowns visit Golden Arrows on Friday at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaZulu Natal and Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg where they could stretch their lead at the top.
Before they moved into top gear control in the second half, Sundowns failed to excel in the opening stanza which frustrated their own supporters.
Billiat missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring when he ballooned his shot over the cross bar following a neat and penetrating move into the Ajax penalty box after 23 minutes.
A few minutes later, Ajax winger Rodrick Kabwe was responsible for the visitors’ first real attack as he found himself with space in the Sundowns danger area but his final effort was easily dealt with by defender Motjeka Madisha.
Sundowns reacted quickly with attack of their own which saw Ajax goalkeeper Brandon Petersen forced into a diving save to deny Percy Tau after his defence was caught napping.
By the half hour mark, the intensity of the match had increased slightly with both teams attacking each other and Ayanda Makua tested Sundowns ’keeper Dennis Onyango with a close range shot which he punched away for safety.
Sundowns could have started the second half positively but Hlompho Kekana’s trademark thunderbolt just outside the centre circle hit the upright with diving Ajax ‘keeper Petersen well beaten.
Sundowns kept on pushing for the opener and Themba Zwane’s shot just after the hour mark from outside the penalty box deflected from Ajax defender Roscoe Pietersen and narrowly over the cross bar.