PRETORIA – Cape Town City moved to within four points of league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns after they edged out the Brazilians 1-0 at the Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night.
Although it’s probably premature to start talking about the title, a defeat for Benni McCarthy’s side at Loftus would have left them a massive 10 points behind the 2016 African champions and all but out of contention.
Sundowns were on top for the large portions of the game and made a bright start to the evening, although they had to wait until the 19th minute for their first chance, which saw Thokozani Sekotlong firing a well-struck effort from 25-yards just inches wide of the upright.
City had done little to threaten the home side’s goal, but they were in front after 25 minutes when Aubrey Ngoma beat the off-side trap and pulled the ball across goal for Nana Akosah-Bempah, who did well to turn his shot in at the far post in what was his first start for the Cape team.
Ngoma, a reported Sundowns target, could have increased the lead five minutes later, but he pulled his effort wide from a great position in the box.
At the other end of the field, visiting goalkeeper Sage Stephens made a superb save to keep out Hlompho Kekana’s 36th-minute free-kick.
The Citizens could though have made it 2-0 in the 41st minute when Roland Putsche found himself in on goal, but ‘Downs keeper Denis Onyango made a brilliant reflex save from close range.
The Tshwane team took command after the break but again could not find a way to penetrate the visitors’ defence. The Cape club had another great chance to extend their lead when Thamsanqa Mkhize found space in the box, but from 12-yards out he curled the ball wide of goal.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was left livid on the touchline midway through the second stanza when his side was denied a penalty after Taariq Fielies tangled with Kekana in the City box before the ball appeared to touch his hand as he went to ground.
Another opportunity then went a-begging for the Brazilians when Themba Zwane fired into the side-netting 20 minutes from time.
Onyango did well to keep out a stinging drive from Putsche although it was Masandawana who ended the match on top. But it just wouldn’t fall for them as City showed great focus and determination to hang on through six added minutes for the victory.