Mamelodi Sundowns came from 4-1 down to earn a 4-4 draw in a thrilling game of football against Ajax Cape Town at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria on Wednesday night.
The result means both teams go down the log, Ajax from the top to second and Downs from second to third. This as a result of Orlando Pirates regaining the top spot by rising from No. 3 through a 2-0 defeat of Moroka Swallows.
It was end to end stuff from the 25th minute onwards as Ajax built up a 4-1 lead before Downs hit back to earn a point.
The game got off to a low-tempo start, with not much goal-mouth action, Sundowns in particular failing to find invention in and around goal box.
Downs did however have two chances around the 22-minute mark, but Katlego Mphela missed with a near-post volley and then Teko Modise spooned a weak effort over the bar after some lovely inter-play.
But soon after it was the Cape team who took the lead when Terror Fanteni scrambled the ball over the line from close range after some poor marking by the home side at Brent Carelse’s 23rd minute corner kick.
Modise then gave Downs some hope when he smashed in a 30-yard rocket which forced Hans Vonk to make a smart save.
Following that, Thulani Serero showed his class on several occasions, making sure the Sundowns defenders were at their committed best as they just about held on.
Sundowns’ attacks were for the most part more laboured, so that the Ajax defence were fairly comfortable.
But with five minutes to go to the break, a swift break from the Brazilians lead to Vonk bringing down Elias Pelembe for a clear penalty.
However, Mphela’s effort was struck too close to the veteran keeper, who did well to get down sharply and make a save.
Moments later Vonk again saved his side with an excellent save from Nyasha Mushekwi’s shot.
Just two minutes after the restart and Foppe de Haan’s side were awarded a penalty when Siyanda Xulu clashed with Fanteni in the box.
It appeared a harsh decision, but in diving in for the tackle, Xulu was putting himself at risk.
Brent Carelse showed nerves of steel as he slotted home from the spot in the 47th minute.
However, within three minutes the Brazilians had pulled a goal back when from a free kick when Vonk failed to hold onto Mushekwi’s header and Xulu netted from the rebound.
With the game once again in the balance, it was Serero who took matters into his own hands.
The youngster showed just why he is so highly rated as he skipped past three defenders, taking the ball into the box before finishing clinically after 53 minutes.
Just two minutes later the Cape Town side further increased their lead when Serero cleverly took a quick free kick and played in Carelse, who slotted past Wayne Sandilands at the near post.
However, within a minute Sundowns pulled one back when Pelembe slid in with an emphatic finish after a deflected shot had looped into his path.
It took a bit longer for the next goal, but it was worth waiting for as Franklin Cale drifted in from the right flank and powered a pile-driver of a shot across Vonk and in to the net: 4-3 to Ajax after 72 minutes.
Now sensing a come-back, Downs surged down the left with Mushekwi in the 76th minute, the Zimbabwean beating Decamps before squaring the ball to Mphela for a fairly simple tap in: 4-4.
This turned the complexion of the game right around as suddenly it was the visiting side who found themselves under pressure.
However, Ajax could have won it in the 85th minute when Carelse teed up Serero, only for the youngster to slice his effort wide.
The action remained thrill-a-minute right to the final whistle but in the end the score-line remained unchanged, just about a fair reflection of one of the most exciting games one will ever see in the Absa Premiership.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 4 (Xulu 50’, Pelembe 56’, Cale 73’, Mphela 76’)
Ajax Cape Town (1) 4 (Fanteni 23’, Carelse 47’ pen, Serero 53’, Carelse 56’)
Sundowns: (4-4-2): Sandilands; Tshilo, Xulu (Mwanjale 75’), Ferreira, Mdledle; Pelembe, Ngubane (Cale 69’), Nyandoro, Modise (Khenyeza 59’); Mphela, Mushekwi
Ajax: (4-4-2): Vonk; Allie, Hlatswayo, Decamps, Mpempu (Evans 80’), Billiat, Maluleka, Scott, Carelse; Serero, Fanteni