Billiat netted late to earn the Brazilians a hard-fought 2-1 win over Platinum Stars in Rustenburg on Tuesday night
Mamelodi Sundowns moved up to fourth on the log, thanks to Khama Billiat’s82nd minute strike which sealed all the three points for the African champions at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
With SuperSport United and Cape Town City dropping points in their previous league matches, the door was left open for the Brazilians to close the gap at the top.
And they didn’t disappoint, although they were made to work hard for the points.
However, they needed to defend better in the second half; especially after missing too many goalscoring chances which would have seen them kill the game off in the first 45 minutes.
It took Sphamandla Mlilo three minutes after the restart to punish the Brazilians.
Despite sitting fourth on the log, the Tshwane giants are still on course to defend their PSL title as their average points-per-game is superior to the majority of their rivals, while Dikwena remained 14th on the log with 17 points.
Pitso Mosimane’s men demonstrated dominance and class early on, with Themba Zwane opening the scoring with a fine finish from close range, rounding off a decent team move from a Billiat cross 11 minutes into the game.
The tempo of the match increased soon after that goal and the game started to open up. Dikwena often struggled to deal with Sundowns attackers and the slippery pitch made matters even worse for their defenders.
Sundowns played much better in the rainy conditions, and knocked the ball around nicely without any hassles, but they couldn’t break down a stubborn home defense, which came to life after giving away the opening goal.
Mbongeni Mzimela pulled off some superb saves to keep his side in the game, including efforts from Percy Tau and Anthony Laffor, as his defenders were at times caught napping.
Sundowns continued to enjoy the possession and dictated terms from the middle of the park, but they would be disappointed to go into the half-time break leading by a single goal given the number of goalscoring chances they created throughout the first half.
The visitors lost concentration at the back three minutes into the second half, and they were punished dearly by Mlilo, who headed past Denis Onyango to make it 1-1 from a free-kick situation.
Onyango should have done better to stop the ball from going in, but he mistimed his run and was beaten in the air by the Platinum Stars player.
The goal swung the pendulum in favour of Cavin Johnson’s charges, and they began to play with more confidence and determination – using their wingers effectively to get behind the Sundowns defense.
However, they hardly tested Onyango as they were let down by poor decision making and execution of passes in the final third.
They were made to pay for not turning their second half dominance into goals eight minutes from time, as Percy Tau and Khama Billiat combined well just outside the box, before the latter fired past Mzimela with a powerful strike.
Billiat squandered the chance to complete his brace a few minutes later after another sublime pass from Tau through the middle.
The Zimbabwean forward, with only the keeper to beat, failed to put the ball into the back of the net, forcing Mzimela into a brilliant reflex save.