Goals from Lebohang Mokoena and Nysaha Mushekwi – the Zimbabwean’s ninth of the tournament – saw the Brazilians to a deserved victory.
The Team of Choice battled bravely, but they were too defensive from the outset and offered little in the way of attacking threat.
Maritzburg were the first to threaten a goal, with Mor Diouf powering a header on target from a corner kick in the sixth minute, but goalkeeper Calvin Marlin made an excellent point-blank save at his far post.
Marlin’s counterpart Shu-aib Walters was given decent protection by his backline, though he did have a couple of long-range efforts from Surprise Moriri and Teko Modise to deal with.
Sundowns eventually took the lead on 38 minutes. A quick free-kick from Moriri put Mokoena into a good shooting position and the attacker beat Walters at his near post with a stinging drive.
Early in the second half Katlego Mphela should have doubled the Brazilians’ advantage. Modise and Mokoena combined to set the striker up with a clear shooting chance in the box, but he blasted his effort wide of the target.
Mphela soon made way for Mushekwi, having seemingly done some damage to his hamstring which necessitated the change.
With 20 minutes to play United’s Walters kept his side in the game with a superb finger-tip save, deflecting over the crossbar a fiercely-hit Esrom Nyandoro shot that looked destined to ripple the back of the net.
But on 75 minutes there was nothing Walters could do to stop Mushekwi sweeping home a low shot with his left foot, as the Zimbabwean netted his ninth goal in the 2012 Nedbank Cup to take the score to 2-0 and effectively kill off Maritzburg’s challenge.
Things went from bad to worse for the Team of Choice when Rheece Evans was sent off in the last minute of regulation time, picking up his second yellow card for hauling down Richard Henyekane just outside the penalty area.
Sundowns: Marlin; Mapuru, Daniels, Mwanjale, Masenamela, Nyandoro, Moriri (Kekana 79’), Modise, Mokoena, Mphela (Mushekwi 54’), Pelembe (Henyekane 69’)
United: Walters; Booysen, Hendricks, Diouf, Evans, Petersen (Ncubeni 62’), Madondo, Morton, Matuka, Matle (Zulu 72’), Sibisi (Malajila 62’)