A hat-trick from Themba Zwane guided Mamelodi Sundowns to a 4-3 victory over AmaZulu in DStv Premiership action on Sunday.
Sundowns gave goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene his first start of the season with Hlompho Kekana on the bench and Lebohang Maboe recalled, while Sandile Khumalo made a rare start for Usuthu.
Masandawana trailed in the first 15 minutes when a defensive blunder from Ricardo Nascimento freed in Lehlohonolo Majoro who raced goal-wards to tuck in the opener.
The visitors’ joy lasted just four minutes as Themba Zwane got on the blind side of the area to send Peter Shalulile’s cutback well beyond AmaZulu goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha.
It was two in just a minute after Zwane completed his brace with a sumptuous solo finish from the cusp of the six-yard area after drifting in-field from the right-side.
Zwane sealed his hat-trick on the half-hour mark when the Bafana Bafana international met a sliding ball from Kermit Erasmus to beat Mbatha with a first-time finish.
Usuthu were awarded a penalty at the start of the second half with Nascimento flagged for handling in the area, leaving Luvuyo Memela to convert on the rebound after Mweene saved the initial kick.
Masandawana regained their two-goal advantage on 54 minutes when Shalulile rose high in the area to head home a perfect cross from Lyle Lakay.
In similar fashion, the visitors pulled a goal back six minutes later after Khumalo leaped ahead of the defence in the area to head in a corner-kick.
Substitutions on the side of Usuthu a minute later saw Siyethemba Sithebe sacrificed for Talent Chawapihwa, with Masandawana unmoved.
A flurry of late chances from Sundowns had Mbatha working around the clock after palming Maboe’s long-range drive before denying Nascimento from point-blank range.
In the end, the defending champions managed the percentage of the match in the last seconds to claim victory and top spot in the process.
Sundowns: Mweene, Morena, Lakay, Nascimento, Madisha, Jali, Coetzee, Maboe, Erasmus, Zwane, Shalulile
Subs: Goss, Mudau, Lebusa, Maluleka, Kekana, Langerman, Domingo, Mkhuma, Makgalwa.
AmaZulu: Mbatha, Gumede, Mabiliso. Khumalo, Booysen, Makhaula, Sithebe, Mlambo, Memela, Mulenga, Majoro.
Subs: Boshoff, Xoki, Mandela, Sikhakhane, Magaqa, Darpoh, Magubane, Chawapihwa, Ntsundwana.