Mamelodi Sundowns happy to take a point off fired-up Orlando Pirates
There was no April fooling Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium on Monday night, the Brazilians happy to box clever and take the point in a 0-0 Absa Premiership draw by quelling a first-half fire from Orlando Pirates.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane had said some weeks ago he would happily accept a draw from this game.
A win for the Brazilians could have seen them in a healthy position in the final sprint for the PSL, and Pirates far less so. But Sundowns could also have conceded the lead to Pirates, the team the Brazilians see as the clearest threat defending their title.
And when Downs tested the waters with some early dominance, Pirates responded with a hurricane. So it was no surprise when the Pretoria team were more concerned with expertly closing shop, keeping an eye on sneaking a winner, than exposing themselves in the second half.
Orlando Stadium crackled with anticipation in the 17 minutes that the start was delayed. Outside traffic was gridlocked.
A storm seemed to almost change fans' minds on attending. Then, with the weather clearing, but still chaos on the roads, there was a late rush to be in Orlando for the game that more than any other has put a cracker in the PSL's posterior for the past decade.
Once it started was, despite the scoreline, the clash was completely worth the wait.
Sundowns gave an a warning of their ice-cream smooth deliciousness in just the second minute. Emiliano Tade allowed the ball to run under his heel for Tebogo Langerman to burst down the left and square, Lebohang Maboe connecting wide at the near post.
Themba Zwane stabbed over after good work from Tade, whose free-kick later almost deceived Wayne Sandilands.
Downs' prettiness only disturbed a hornet's nest. Bucs lifted their tempo to a level even Downs could not keep pace with.
Luvuyo Memela ran the Brazilians ragged, including chasing Bon Motshwari's chip and being fouled by Maboe, which some referees might have given as red.
In injury time Tiyani Mabunda and Anele Ngcongca had to desperately lunge to stop Memela in front of goal.
Onyango plucked shots from Memela and Lorch out of the air.
Sundowns might have been relieved to got to the break at 0-0, though the 2016 African champions are also accomplished at managing such game situations.
The Brazilians naturally came out slowing the game markedly, smothering and stifling the moisture that gives hurricanes their energy.
Bucs lost Sandlilands with after the keeper's aerial collision with Wayne Arendse, as Siyabonga Mpontshane was introduced in the 68th.
Memela had to be stretchered off, replaced by Kudakwashe Mahachi, clutching his thigh after a clash with Kekana.
All of which, with Downs closing the spaces far more effectively frustrated Bucs, who, when they got the ball, just wanted to go, go, go.
Mulenga got on the end of Lorch's cross from deep, chested down and forced a stop from Onyango. But mostly Bucs' earlier thunder had been snuffed out.