The first match of the Absa Premiership return between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates ended with a draw at the Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday night.
Both teams got off to a slow start, knocking the ball around without any speed in attack but Sundowns got into another gear after 20 minutes as Themba Zwane forced a save out of goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands at the near post.
The game started opening up after half-an-hour and Pitso Mosimane’s charges felt they should have had a penalty ten minutes before the break after Happy Jele appeared to handle inside the box but the referee was not persuaded.
Vincent Pule had a chance to break the deadlock for the Buccaneers two minutes before halftime after beating an offside line inside the box to go clear on goal on the right side, but he dragged a right-footed shot wide.
The second half started with an increased intensity as Pirates had a glorious chance to get the breakthrough just before the hour-mark after Fortune Makaringe dribbled his way clear inside the box and although he beat shot-stopper Denis Onyango, his low strike came off the upright.
Pule came very close to catching Onyango off his line with a looping strike just outside the box with 21 minutes remaining but the Ugandan goalkeeper tracked back quickly and came to the rescue.
Sundowns were losing their steam in the last quarter of an hour, with Josef Zinnbauer’s troops having the momentum and the Buccaneers almost snatched the lead in this period as Ntsikelelo Nyauza headed over from six-yards out.
The chances continued to fall for the Soweto giants after Paseka Mako went clear in the centre of the box but with only Denis Onyango, his effort was blocked by Motjeka Madisha.
The sides were still fancying a late winner in the latter stages but they were unable to carve out clear chances as they settled for the share of the spoils, as Sundowns moved within three points of Kaizer Chiefs, who can move six points clear with a win over Wits on Wednesday night.