Mamelodi Sundowns’ hopes of retaining the South African Premiership suffered a setback Wednesday when they lost 2-0 at home to SuperSport United in a Pretoria derby.
Grant Kekana nodded United in front on 30 minutes after a corner and Zambian Ghampani Lungu scored the second goal 11 minutes from time with a close-range shot.
The result left Sundowns six points behind leaders Orlando Pirates with two matches in hand but an inferior goal difference.
Pirates have 50 points and second-place Bidvest Wits 44 with four matches to play and Sundowns 44 with six fixtures remaining.
SuperSport rose to fourth with 43 points after their first victory since 2013 over Sundowns, with whom they share a ground.
Sundowns looked jaded after arriving from Egypt Monday having qualifying for the CAF Champions League semi-finals at the expense of record eight-time winners Al Ahly.
“SuperSport were well rested and far fresher than us and we never recovered from conceding a soft first goal,” said Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane.
“We are on a fixture treadmill with no off button. Tomorrow, we fly to Polokwane for a league fixture on Saturday and play another one in Pretoria next Tuesday.
“Just three days later we are in Morocco to face Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of a CAF Champions League semi-final.
“It is tough on my players, who will not be with their families this Easter. Mental strength is going to be a key factor in the next few weeks as we chase titles at home and in Africa.”
SuperSport coach and former Zimbabwe defender Kaitano Tembo said: “We managed the game well and the many hours spent studying videos of Sundowns paid off.”
Meanwhile, Free State Stars survived having Sifiso Mbhele red-carded in the second half to climb out of the relegation zone by holding mid-table Highlands Park 1-1 near Johannesburg.
Sibusiso Hlubi poked the ball into the net after nine minutes to put Stars ahead and the 39th-minute equaliser also stemmed from a throw-in with Namibian Peter Shalulile netting.
The result was predictable as promoted Highlands have drawn 13 of 26 league matches this seasons, two more than any other club.