Johannesburg - Percy Tau survived a battering to score and give Mamelodi Sundowns a 1-0 win over Maritzburg United on Wednesday that stretched their Absa Premiership lead to five points.
The 23-year-old midfielder was constantly fouled as mid-table United tried to contain him at Loftus Versfeld, a Pretoria stadium Sundowns share with the Northern Bulls rugby team.
But there was no stopping the South Africa international on 64 minutes as he latched on to a through pass, moved across a defender in the box and fired past Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Sundowns finished the match on the defensive as Maritzburg sought an equaliser to maintain good recent form that brought two victories and seven goals.
Winning in Pretoria was a welcome change for 2016 African champions Sundowns, who lost three of four previous home league matches this season.
Good away form compensated for those setbacks and Sundowns have 25 points off 12 matches, five points above Orlando Pirates, who have played two games more.
"What a game hey. What a difficult game, it came as expected hey. Maritzburg is a very good team. Fadlu [Davids] is doing exceptionally well," head coach Pitso Mosimane said after the game.
"We were sweating, we survived. We needed experience. We had to put defenders to rob the result. They have the speed, the young [Siphesihle] Ndlovu, number 8, is unbelievable. He always punched holes in our defence but we had the experience so we survived.
"I'm so happy with Percy with the goal he scored. We have been telling him to go into his left. He was always coming to the left and passing but [this time] he hit it, it's unbelievable.
"I'm so happy that we dealt with the set-pieces because they are gladiators. I had to put Anele [Ngcongca] and Wayne [Arendse] [late on] to deal with the crosses and set-pieces," the former Bafana Bafana coach added.
"It was a big win for us. This [was] a big game."
SuperSport United, the other Premiership club based in Pretoria, fell 1-0 at Free State Stars as they play fixture catch-up having reached the CAF Confederation Cup final last month.
Stars climbed four places to sixth thanks to a 25th-minute goal from Siphelele Mthembu, who took advantage of defensive confusion to rifle a cross into the net from the far post.
Stars triumphed despite having only 10 men from midway through the second half as defender Patrick Phungwayo was red-carded for a dangerous challenge.
SuperSport stayed 11th having taken only five points from a possible 12 since losing the Confederation Cup final to TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.