BERNARD Parker’s injury-time goal rubbed salt in the wounds of Mamelodi Sundowns and earned Kaizer Chiefs a 1-0 Premiership victory at Lucas Moripe Stadium last night.
Chiefs, already the new champions, went to 66 points to break Downs’ year-old record for the 16-team era of 65.
Worse still for Downs, it was a goal against the run of play that prevailed on the night. The Brazilians had attempted to flex their marginally greater player muscle, but were held by the bestorganised side in the league.
With the clock running down, Parker was able to scramble a finish past stranded Downs goalkeeper Denis Onyango with practically the last kick of the game.
Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns now have only the Nedbank Cup to compete for silverware, where they contest the season-ending final against Ajax Cape Town in Port Elizabeth on May 9.
Chiefs went into last night’s game 15 points clear of Downs, but there was still plenty of competitive edge between the two great rivals.
Apart from stopping Chiefs from beating their 65-point record – at least against themselves – defending champions Sundowns would have been out to prove they are the better team, which they are on paper, though not performance, in a league season dominated by Amakhosi.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter opted to keep the in-form Reyaad Pieterse between the posts, even though Itumeleng Khune had returned from suspension.
Played in front of a capacity crowd, this was no meaningless game by any stretch. From the outset it was clear this was a grudge match as challenges flew in and the pace was urgent.
Mzikayise Mashaba, the lone scorer with a bullet from range in Downs’ Nedbank Cup semifinal win against Vasco Da Gama on Sunday, was again a threat.
The left back, playing again in left midfield, was teed up in a similar position to his strike in the previous match, but miscued wildly for the first chance to either side in the 20th minute.
The Brazilians had started brightly, and were the more dominant. An intricate flowing move around the box that involved Katlego Mashego and Khama Billiat ended with Mashaba scrambling a low shot past a defender that was awkward for the huge Pieterse to get down to.
Chiefs had their first clear chance from a Parker corner in the 43rd minute, Matthew Rusike glancing a near-post header across goal.
Sundowns were pushing more of the two teams for an opener. However, these sides seemed too evenly matched as the game settled into a deadlock again.
Baxter brought in young midfield talent Hendrick Ekstein for Mandla Masango minutes into the second half. Later, the Chiefs coach introduced Katlego Mphela, for Rusike. Mosimane introduced Anthony Laffor for Mashego, but it was Parker who would have the final say.