Ajax should really have scored in the 11th minute when Erwin Isaacs got clear down the right channel and pulled the back for Prince Nxumalo, but the striker’s shot was brilliantly saved by Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Nyango.
With Ajax continuing to dominate the early stages, Sundowns were forced into a few reckless challenges, and it led to a yellow card for Hlompho Kekana after he cruelly hacked down Ajax captain Travis Graham.
Ajax’s dominance of possession had the PSL log leaders under pressure, but the Capetonians squandered yet another easy attempt in the 30th minute. This time, Tashreeq Morris crossed the ball and Isaacs was in space, but he stabbed the ball over the cross bar from right in front of goal. Moments later, the Cape side’s Bantu Mzwakali skidded in an effort from long range, but the ball skewed wide of the target.
Five minutes before halftime, Ajax had another opportunity when Isaacs floated in an inviting corner-kick, but Morris headed over.
With moments to go to the break, Sundowns finally had an opportunity when Kekana’s fiercely struck free-kick looked headed for the top corner, but the woodwork came to Ajax’s rescue.
Sundowns, under the cosh in the first half, came out strongly in the second, with Keagan Dolly and Khama Billiat finally starting to have an influence on proceedings. Billiat put Dolly in the clear in the 56th minute, but his dangerous cross was cleared by Ajax defender Lawrence Lartey. And, from the resultant corner, whipped in by Dolly, Thabo Nthethe headed over the bar.
With 25 minutes to go, Ajax brought on Toriq Losper in place of Isaacs, while Billiat had to be treated off the field after a nasty challenge from Lartey. In search of a winner, the Cape side made another substitution in the 72nd minute, with veteran forward Nathan Paulse coming on for Nxumalo.
Another Dolly corner created another opportunity, this time from the head of Ivorian Bangaly Soumahoro, but Ajax goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola pulled off a great, acrobatic save.
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