Lebohang Mokoena, who recently signed a new contract with The Brazilians, was the hero on the night, scoring the only goal of the game with 10 minutes to go.
Sundowns were the first to launch attacks, with Punch Masenamela’s dazzling overlapping runs looking dangerous during the early stages.
Teko Modise had the first shot of the game in the sixth minute but it sailed over the bar, and that was followed by AmaZulu’s first threatening attack which saw Tshweu Mokoro try to play a through ball to the on-running Ayanda Dlamini, but he arrived late.
As the clock wound down in the first half, most of the play had taken place at the heart of the field and the goalkeepers had less to do, only called into action when taking goal kicks.
In the second half, the sides came out of the changing rooms with different tactics. Sundowns were the first to surge forward, once again with the blistering pace of Masenamela, but AmaZulu’s defence were up to the standard and managed to clear.
Ayanda Dlamini’s cross was then superbly cleared by Surprise Moriri, which resulted in a corner that Senamela sent in only for Dlamini to head wide.
In the 50th minute, a cross by Themba Zwane was well matched by Katlego Mphela’s header from centre of penalty area but a comfortable save by Tapuwa Kapini kept the sides locked at 0-0.
Debutant Anthony Laffor came on in the second half and sprinkled more life into Downs’ game as his speed and skill down the left flank meant more trouble for the Usuthu defence.
In the 79th minute the goal finally came; Themba Zwane’s cross was well tucked home by Mokoena from the six yard box.
After the goal, Sundowns looked revived as they threw waves of attack at the home side, with Laffor and Mokoena proving to be serious trouble down the flanks.
Moses Chavula should have leveled matters in the 82nd minute but was superbly denied by Moriri, who put his body on the line to concede a corner.