Star striker Peter Shalulile scored twice as Nedbank Cup defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns dominated Richards Bay to a 3-2 victory in their Round of 32 clash at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday.
The Namibian netted within eleven minutes of the first-half before Nkanyiso Zungu equalised from the penalty spot for the visiting side. Mosa Lebusa also contributed to the scoresheet before Shalulile's second as Katleho Makateng netted a consolation goal for the visitors.
The Brazilians have now won 12 consecutive matches in all competitions since falling to Orlando Pirates 3-0 in the MTN8 semi-final second leg in late October.
The three goals in Pretoria took their goal tally to 26 strikes in 12 matches, averaging 2.16 goals per match, a statistic head coach Rhulani Mokwena will be beaming with pride.
"That's our story the entire season, we create a lot of chances," Mokwena expressed during his post-match interview.
"I thought we played really, really well. It is what it is. We showed very good character. We have to have this mentality where we dig deep. It was a good result."
The Brazilians charged forward with intent as soon as the first half whistle sounded and reaped the rewards for their ten-minute onslaught of attack, poking holes in Richards Bay's weak defensive setup.
Pinpoint passing saw the ball glide across the Loftus pitch via Mothobi Mvala, Bongani Zungu and Thapelo Morena before the right-back found Shalulile with the perfect ball. However, the striker's first touch saw the ball ricochet off his thigh. Still, Lesedi Kapinga latched on to the ball, and Shalulile collected it again before smartly dinking a sliding goalkeeper Salim Jamal Magoola for the opener.
A second goal for Sundowns nearly came through Sipho Mbule, who is yet to score for the Brazilians, through a stunning free-kick with Magoola stranded on his goal line, breathing a sigh of relief as the ball struck the upright.
The Natal Rich Boys clawed their way back in getting a feel of the ball and received a rare corner kick, but that dead ball situation turned quickly against the visiting side. Kapinga, aware of his surroundings, pounced and picked up the loose ball in Sundowns' box and curled it 15 yards out to a running Surprise Ralani.
The former Cape Town City forward danced through four white shirts, including seeing Tsepho Mabua lose his footing, before slotting in Shalulile, who saw his timely shot stopped by a flock of defenders.
Before it got any worse than it should, the KwaZulu-Natal outfit equalised.
Denis Onyango fouled Sakhile Hlongwa and referee Jelly Chavani pointed to the penalty spot, with Zungu giving Richards Bay co-coaches Pitso Dladla and Vasili Manousakis some thing to smile about.
But Shalulile could have wiped that smile off their faces immediately with the chance that followed before the half time whistle and would rue the golden opportunity.
The former Highlands Park striker was right in front of the goalposts as Morena squared the ball from inside the Richards Bay box but his effort went straight into the path of the diving Magoola.
Sundowns entered the second half with the same burst of energy they started the game with as Mosa Lebusa leapt beyond and sliced between two Richards Bay defenders to regain the lead for Sundowns via a Sipho Mbule corner kick.
Ten minutes later, Shalulile completed his brace as Sundowns were sure ticket holders for the next round despite Katleho Makateng producing a last-minute consolation goal for Richards Bay.
Joining Sundowns in the last 16 will be Marumo Gallants as they galloped past Magesi FC 3-1 courtesy of goals from Letsie Koapeng, Judas Moseamedi and Tebogo Thangwane.