Cosmos frustrate Sundowns
Sundowns v Cosmos (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Struggling Jomo Cosmos earned an unlikely point as they held hosts Mamelodi Sundowns to a 0-0 draw in their Premiership encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
Sundowns, the star-studded log leaders, were expected to walk over this season's relegation candidates.
With their closest rivals having won their matches this weekend, their one point from the fixture has the Brazilians enjoying a three-point lead at the top instead of five.
They now have 35 points from 17 games with SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs closely behind on 32 points each.
The point gained does not give Ezenkosi breathing space either as they are still 15th on the table with 11 points from their 17 matches.
In the searing heat, Sundowns created a number of chances that should have seen them register all three points.
Their top striker Katlego Mphela, irked the small crowd with misses, starting with a volley that went narrowly wide in the 14th minute from a Siyanda Xulu cross.
Four minutes later, midfielder Jabulani Shongwe also shot wide after good interplay with captain Teko Modise on the edge of the box.
Shortly before the break, Mphela provided for Lebogang Mokoena, whose shot was pelted away by Avril Phali in the visitors' goal.
Moments later, Phali turned away midfielder Themba Zwane's attempted curler, tipping it wide of goal.
Second-half substitute and former Cosmos winger Anthony Laffor added some energy to the Brazilians when he came on for the lacklustre Elias Pelembe before the hour mark.
He delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right to Mphela who was free in the box, with the Bafana Bafana player heading wide of goal.
It was next the turn of substitute striker Nyasha Mushekwi from a splendid Siyabonga Ngubane cross, also heading wide, after being unmarked in the box.
Mushekwi got another shot at goal seconds later but was denied by Phali, who was arguably the stand-out player in the fixture.
Cosmos, though, were not as adventurous or menacing as their opponents and will consider themselves fortunate not to have registered a convincing loss.
While Cosmos winger Matthew Rusike made some darting runs in the first-half, he provided the side's best opportunity with a shot that was easily saved by Sundowns keeper Wayne Sandilands in the 35th minute.
In the dying moments of the game, striker Siyabonga Nontshinga fashioned a shot that could have given Cosmos a surprise victory, but it sailed narrowly over the post.