Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns fought out a goal-happy 4-4 draw yesterdayday, but Orlando Pirates surged ahead of both clubs to claim top spot in the South African Premiership.
Pirates cruised to an easy 2-0 win against second from bottom Moroka Swallows to retake their place at the head of the table with 53 points, ahead of Ajax on goal difference. Sundowns are on 51 points and Kaizer Chiefs, who battled to a 1-1 draw against Wits, are on 47 with a game in hand.
With four rounds to go, the top four teams are all contenders for the Premiership's $1.4m winners cheque, making this the most exciting title race in the 16-year history of the continent's richest national football championship.
Sundowns have won the title five times and Soweto giants Chiefs and Pirates twice each, while the closest Ajax have come was finishing runners-up to Chiefs in 2004 and to SuperSport four seasons later.
Ajax had a 4-1 lead in the 56th minute when Elias Pelembe kicked home a serendipitously deflected shot, igniting a blistering scoring streak for the Sundowns. Seventeen minutes later, Franklin Cale gave the ball a firm touch to his left then rifled it past Ajax keeper Hans Vonk, who had a rough night playing away at Pretoria's Lucas Moripe Stadium.
Katlego Mphela, who missed a penalty kick in the 40th minute after Vonk made an ill-advised take-down in the box, redeemed himself in the 76th minute with the goal that clinched a point for the Sundowns.
Pirates made short work of Swallows at home in Soweto's Orlando Stadium as man of the match Dikgang Mabalane scored two early goals, one in the fourth minute and one in the 11th.
Chiefs for their part had several chances to claim three points in their match at FIFA World Cup™ venue Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, but repeatedly failed to convert. They trailed from the 20th minute after Wits' Sifiso Vikazi opened the scoring off a defensive error, but equalised in the 57th minute when Reneilwe Letsholonyane scored off an elegant cross from Mandla Masango.