Sundowns, who had a much changed team due to next Tuesday’s crucial Caf Champions League match, will be aggrieved by the result after they struck the woodwork twice and also had a goal disallowed.
The Citizens will know they still have a mountain to climb in the return match in Tshwane.
City were to have the first chance of the game after 10 minutes when Matthew Rusike fired in a half volley from 18-yards out, which Kennedy Mweene did well to parry away.
In what was a tight opening stanza with not many clear openings, the Brazilians were denied a 28th minute goal when Anthony Laffor’s effort was called off-sides in what was a very marginal decision.
Lebogang Maboe then came close for the visitors four minutes later when he curled an effort from just outside the box inches over the target.
Taariq Fielies wasted the home team’s best opportunity when he headed wide from an Ayanda Patosi corner kick a few minutes before the interval.
Sundowns looked more of a threat after the restart and they were denied taking the lead by the crossbar after Sphelele Mkhulise had found City keeper Peter Leeuwenburgh off his line with a chipped effort.
The game remained balanced on a knife-edge and there for the taking, and when Fielies was again presented with a chance from a Patosi corner, he made no mistake this time as his clinical finish put the Citizens in front with 15 minutes to play.
Sniffing blood, City nearly doubled their advantage nine minutes later, but Patosi was prevented getting his name on the score-sheet through a fine save by Mweene.
At the other end, Masandawana were again unfortunate not to find the net as Anele Ngcongca’s header rattled the woodwork in the dying moments of added time.