Mamelodi Sundowns huffed and puffed and finally broke through the Polokwane City wall as they condemned their visitors to a ninth straight Absa Premiership defeat with a 1-0 win at Loftus Stadium in Tshwane on Saturday evening.
Sibusiso Vilakazi prodded home with four minutes of regulation time remaining to secure a valuable win for the Brazilians who cut Kaizer Chiefs’ lead atop the league standings to six points, as a result.
Defeat leaves Rise and Shine rooted to the bottom of the table and heading into the new year having last conjured a league point in September.
The hosts were in control from the onset and tested George Chigova as early as the third minute. Thapelo Morena burst down the right flank before finding Sphelele Mkhulise who brought the very best out of the Zimbabwean shot-stopper.
Mkhulise had a further chance in the 32nd minute, but could only succeed in skying his effort over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
That trend continued for the hosts and with Themba Zwane pulling the strings, chances continued to come. Chigova kept out Langerman’s powerful effort three minutes later before Mkhulise squandered another gilt-edged chance.
Chigova could only succeed in parrying Gaston Sirino’s shot into the path of the young attacker, but again, he fluffed his attempt off target.
Rise and Shine finally registered a shot after the break as Charlton Mashumba drilled a rasping attempt into Denis Onyango’s hands.
That, though, is how good it would get for the Limpopo club who finished the game with 10-men when after having made all three of their substitutions, Ayanda Nkili picked up what looked to have been a serious hamstring injury.
This swung the game dramatically into the Brazilians favour, but Polokwane remained resolute.
Hlompho Kekana forced man of the match Chigova into another save in the 77th minute, before Vilakazi skewed his attempt into the side netting soon after.
The goal finally came through that man Vilakazi in the 86th minute. Morena used his blistering pace to great effect to weave past a couple of tired Polokwane defenders before teeing up his teammate, who was left with the easiest of finishes from close range.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 1 (Vilakazi 86′)
Polokwane City (0) 0
Mamelodi Sundowns: Onyango; Morena, Madisha, Lebusa, Langerman (Ngoma 77′), Kekana, Jali, Zwane, Sirino, Mkhulise (Meza 83′), Maboe (Vilakazi 65′).
Polokwane City: Chigova; Mvelase, Motloung, Nthatheni (Nkili 45+1′), Hlongwane, Nku, Phiri, Manaka (Nene 46′), Booi (Maluleke 64′), Tlolane, Mashumba.