Mamelodi Sundowns snatch top of the table clash in Athlone
Khama Billiat sends Masandawana all the way to the top
In what was deemed the clash of the titans, Mamelodi Sundowns came out tops when Khama Billiat smashed the back of the net in the 48th minute to send the visitors into a comfortable position on the Absa Premiership log.
It looked rather promising for The Citizens in the first 10 minutes of the game when Thamsanqa Mkhize dashed to the by-line, but Denis Onyango made an impressive intervention to deny their solid chance at goal.
Cape Town City attempting to knock on the door again with multipe chances but luck was not on their side when Lyle Lakay took a chance in the 22nd minute, but his strike on the left side of the box was denied by a very alert Onyango. Mkhize had another solif chance to break the deadlock on the half-hour mark with a free header at the back post but was completely off the mark - frustration was certainly seeping in on their faces.
Referee Victor Gomez who happens to steal the show in some of his games stunned the fans alike when he did not sent Onyango off when he took Thabo Nodada five minutes before halftime. Nodada took a serious gash to his leg which will require a few stitches while the Sundowns goalkeeper got away with a yellow card.
Assistant coach Vasili Manousakis, however, sang Cape Town City's praises as he echoed how unbelievably well they played.
"I am still speechless, the first half was so one-sided. I think the boys played unbelievably well tonight.
"To be fair, we made that Sundowns team look very average in the first half but as we said now, we know all the attempts and the corners, I think we had about 11 corners but it counts for nothing if you don't put the ball at the back of the net.
"They just needed one chance and lacked concentration; two missed tackles on that side before the ball came in and you walk away with nothing.
"But we are very proud of the boys; I don't think we could've played any better obviously just putting the ball at the back of the net," he said at the post match conference.
Masounakis also pointed the problem that has been bugging The Citizens that being not being able to score goals but told the media that he hopes their new recruit, Matthew Rusike would be their answer.
"'The problem for the past couple of weeks has been scoring; the only goal we got was an own goal and it came from a pressurized situation but that's been the story for the past few weeks, and hopefully Matthew Rusike sorts it out for us.
When asked about their chance on winning the league, the assistant coach didn't mince his words by pointing out that the title race is done for them; considering the fact that Mamelodi Sundowns is now leading the log by seven points.
"I think the title is done to be honest, it has slipped for us. I think if we stay in the top five then we will be happy with that.
"We've got Nedbank on Wednesday and then off to Swaziland - new experience for us in the CAF.
"The chairman's mandate in the beginning of the season was to reach the top 8 and I think we need to be realistic and know that we are out of the running," he told the media.
Percy Tau was the man of the match in the top-of-the-table clash that brought the heat to Athlone stadium. A well-deserved accolade as he contributed to Billiat's goal with an impressive assist; which some fans dubbed as the best assist of the season.