Pietermaritzburg - Anthony Laffor struck a second-half brace as Mamelodi Sundowns climbed to second on the Premiership table with a 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday night.
Liberia forward Laffor struck in the 50th and 63rd minutes. The first after an error by the home defence and the second following a free-flowing attacking move.
Substitute Kurt Lentjies pulled a goal back for the home side with five minutes to play.
The defending champions remained firm in the closing stages, despite some strong pressure applied by the hosts, to hold on for the three points that lifted them above Bidvest Wits on the log.
The Team of Choice, meanwhile, stayed sixth.
Sundowns enjoyed far more of the possession early on, but had little in terms of clear cut openings, except a great fourth-minute chance that came the way of Khama Billiat, who sprung the off-side trap, but pushed the ball across the face of goal.
Maritzburg had to wait 17 minutes for their first chance, which was a free-kick to the back post by Thamsanqa Mkhize, although Kwanda Mngonyama, who is on-loan from the Brazilians, headed wide.
As the game ticked on, visiting midfielder Teko Modise and home winger Mondli Cele forced goalkeepers Virgil Vries and Kennedy Mweene to punch away, while Lindokuhle Mbatha and Billiat were wasteful with long-range efforts.
Cele had the best chance of the half 10 minutes from the break when a long throw-in was only cleared as far as the edge of the box, where the Maritzburg player thumped just wide from.
More pressure from the host followed with Khumbulani Banda's low shot straight at Mweene from the left, before a wonderful driving 30-yard strike from Mohau Mokate forced the Sundowns custodian to punch away to his left.
There was finally an effort on target for the men from Pretoria just before the break as Laffor picked out Cuthbert Malajila in the box, but the Zimbabwean stabbed straight at Vries.
It was goalless at the break, but within five minutes of the restart the visitors were in front following a mix-up between Vries and Mngonyama --the pair failing to communicate and Laffor picking up the pieces and rounding the Namibian goalkeeper, before slotting in.
Stand-in captain Thabo Nthethe then forced Vries to punch away after a poor clearance, before the second goal arrived.
It came from a flowing move forward as Modise and Malajila combined to set up Laffor, who stroked in a low finish.
Seemingly beaten, the hosts were suddenly sparked to life as Banda and Cele twice forced Mweene into acrobatic saves, before replacement Lentjies thrashed in a low 20-yard finish, off the left upright and beyond the stranded Mweene.