Bidvest Wits came back to deny Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) when they drew 1-1 at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night.
The two former PSL champions locked horns in Durban as they both had one mission, to close the gap on current log leaders, Kaizer Chiefs.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt was looking to bag a consecutive PSL win after beating Golden Arrows last week while the Brazilians were also out to beg their second following a victory over Stellenbosch FC.
In what was an eagerly anticipated encounter, the Clever Boys’ skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo came close to opening the scoring when he unleashed a half volley in the box, but Denis Onyango was alert to punch the effort away in the third minute.
The hosts had a bright start heading in the first 10 minutes, but coach Pitso Mosimane looked to settle with their short passing game without testing Ricardo Goss.
However, Andile Jali would show his brilliance when he dispossessed Thabang Monare before delivering a cross to Themba Zwane who set up Gaston Sirino, when the Uruguayan slotted the ball into an empty net to make it 1-0 in the 15th minute.
In search of an immediate response, Elias Pelembe laid a beautiful pass into the box and Onyango produced a superb save to deny Hashim Domingo a minute later.
After 20 minutes of an entertaining contest, Deon Hotto picked up an unmarked Domingo in the penalty area, yet the youngster could not finish with a first touch, with only Onyango to beat.
As they looked to control the tempo of the match, Zwane ballooned his effort over the crossbar after a brilliant lay off by Mauricio Affonso in the 36th minute.
Right on the stroke of half time, Sundowns cracked on the left-wing and Gift Motupa benefitted from Hotto’s well-placed cross, it was 1-1 as Onyango stood no chance from a header.
The visitors came back chasing their second goal, but Thapelo Morena’s shot was parried away by Goss after Zwane’s defence-splitting pass.
In the 52nd minute, Sphelele Mkhulise would later combine with Zwane in the final third, but the experienced Bafana Bafana midfielder’s strike went inches wide off the right post.
On the other hand, Wits also had their chances as Hotto and Motupa could not beat Onyango before Hunt introduced Phathutshedzo Nange for Domingo.
Striker Mxolisi Macuphu was brought on after the hour mark, but it was Motjeka Madisha’s header which hit the crossbar in the 65th minute.
Both sides had enough chances to walk away with three points, but they both walked away with a point apiece.
For the Brazilians, they remain third with 25 points and the hosts now move to fourth with 20 points from 10 matches.