Sundowns got off to an absolute flyer, with Benedict Vilakazi catching Stars defenders Martin Carelse and Fabio Marinho flat-footed in the penalty area before sliding a low shot between the legs of Kennedy Mweene to put the visitors 1-0 up in the first minute.
Vilakazi made it 2-0 inside the first ten minutes, sliding in ahead of Kleinbooi Taaibos to meet Mabhuti Khenyez’s low cross from the right – the ball looped up over the reach of Mweene and rippled the net just inside the far post.
The Brazilians extended their lead to 3-0 as early as the 30th minute when Khenyeza cut inside from the left and beat both Carelse and Ayanda Gcaba before rifling a fierce shot past Mweene’s left and into the back of the net.
Ea Lla Koto seemed to be dead and buried after Khenyeza’s fine strike but they pulled a goal back almost immediately, with Tebello Mofokeng providing a good finish to Mpho Makola’s fine cross from the right flank.
And just three minutes later Kingston Nkhatha made it 3-2, turning on the edge of the penalty before firing a superb shot into the top corner of the net that gave Wayne Sandilands no chance whatsoever.
The first half ended in controversial scenes as Stars pulled the game level at 3-3 with a remarkable goal from Ayanda Gcaba. An attack from the home team seemed to have run its course as the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside decision, which caused central defender Luvhengo Mungomeni to stop playing with the ball at his feet.
Gcaba stabbed home the loose ball after hearing no whistle and referee Abdul Ebrahim allowed the goal to stand, much to the disgust of Sundowns’ players who vehemently protested the decision.
The Brazilians took ages to come out for the second half and it started more than ten minutes late. Yet the visitors had clearly shaken off their anger at Stars’ third goal as they set about re-establishing a lead.
On 52 minutes they did just that, with Vilakazi squaring a ball into the danger area that was toe-poked into his own net by Ea Lla Koto’s Carelse, who was trying to stop Khenyeza netting his second of the game.
Ten minutes later Mofokeng had a great chance to level the game up after springing the visitors’ offside trap but he blazed the ball high over the crossbar. The striker burst free again in the 72nd minute but Eduardo Ferreira recovered well to make a critical tackle.
With just under a quarter of an hour to play Vilakazi and Khenyeza combined again to create a chance for the latter but he saw his effort blocked from close range by Mweene and he was unable to latch onto the rebound.
Elias Pelembe almost scored a fifth for Sundowns in the 80th minute, looping a free kick over the wall only to hit the upper part of the near post, with Mweene rooted to the spot on the goal line.