A “joke” goal earned Mamelodi Sundowns a 1-0 win at Kaizer Chiefs and brought the clubs level on points in the South African Premiership title race.
Teko Modise floated the ball toward the goalmouth from just inside Chiefs’ half with 14 minutes left and the ball eluded goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to land in the net.
It was one of the softer goals of the season, but also one of the most important as Sundowns joined defending champions Chiefs on 52 points with six rounds left.
Chiefs stayed top on goal difference – plus-21 against plus-20 – but appear to have the tougher run-in.
“The goal was a joke,” said Chiefs’ English coach Stuart Baxter, who guided the Soweto club to the 2013 title after taking over at the start of last season.
His comment echoed that of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who called the final Paris Saint-Germain goal a “joke” in a 3-1 Champions League win over his team last week.
“We created more chances than Sundowns but did not turn them into goals,” added the former South Africa and Finland manager.
“However, the destiny of the title is in our hands – if we win our remaining six matches we will finish top of the table.”
Chiefs, seeking to win the richest and most televised African national football league a fourth time, have six fixtures left, one more than Sundowns.
However, the title-holders must visit third-place championship long-shots Wits University and a two-leg CAF Confederation Cup play-off during April is going to create a tight schedule.
Sundowns started impressively before a large crowd at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto, then Chiefs created the more clearcut chances.
Sundowns were lucky not to fall behind soon after half-time as Morgan Gould and Zimbabwean Kingston Nkhatha were foiled by the woodwork within a minute.
But after Modise broke the deadlock, rattled Chiefs rarely looked like beating Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
“Our tactics worked and we never stopped fighting,” said Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, “but I would rather be Chiefs than Sundowns as they have a game in hand.”
An early Sthembiso Ngcobo brace brought Wits a 2-1 win at Mpumalanga Black Aces and trimmed the gap behind Chiefs to eight points with a game less played.
Orlando Pirates slipped to fifth after a Bradley Grobler goal condemned the Soweto Buccaneers to a 1-0 loss at SuperSport United.
Amsterdam-born Orlando Smeekes scored a superb half-volley goal to give Maritzburg United a 1-0 win over seemingly doomed Golden Arrows, who are eight points adrift at the bottom.