Goals either side of half time from Katlego Mphela and Dario Monteiro and a late tap-in from substitute Collins Mbesuma saw the hosts claim an important victory that gets their league campaign back on track ahead of cup commitments at the weekend.
For AmaZulu, however, it is a third straight loss (including their defeat against SuperSport in the Telkom Knockout Cup at the weekend) and a fourth defeat from five games in all competitions in 2008/09.
Usuthu were not helped by having several strikers unavailable for selection; this on top of the tragic death of Siyabonga Mkhwanazi last month that saw this game postponed from its original date. Sean Dundee was given his first start of the season but the former Liverpool striker looked well short of the kind of sharpness coach Clive Barker will hope he can provide in months to come, though in fairness neither he nor strike partner Bradley Ritson were provided with any service to speak of.
The Brazilians missed two gilt-edged chances in the opening exchanges, with both Mphela and Sydney Plaatjies failing to hit the target with free headers from corner kicks. Midfielder Jorge Acuna also tried to get in on the act, but his half volley midway through the first half flew well over the AmaZulu goal.
Sundowns seemed to lack cohesion and vision in their play until a good burst forward from Siboniso Gaxa in the 39th minute. Playing in an unfamiliar role in midfield due to the absence of Esrom Nyandoro, Gaxa exchanged passes with Monteiro and drew goalkeeper Kalililo Kakonje off his line before squaring for Mphela to tuck the ball home.
AmaZulu were unlucky not to go into the break level at 1-1 after Ntokozo Sikhakhane had a goal disallowed in the 42nd minute. Striker Sean Dundee fired a shot through a crowded penalty area and Sikhakhane poked the loose ball into the back of the net, but he was ruled offside in a tight decision that could have gone either way.
Mphela should have doubled his side's lead in the 57th minute, but he completely missed his kick after a clever touch from Monteiro had created a clear shooting opportunity inside the penalty area.
But the striker's miss was not costly, as his partner put the Brazilians 2-0 up in the 67th minute. Dladla sent Monteiro through with a slide rule pass and the Mozambique international skipped past Kakonje before stroking the ball into the back of the net for his third Absa Premiership goal in as many games.
Mbesuma wrapped it up in the first minute of injury time by scoring his first goal since returning to South African football, tapping in from close range after Koketso Mmotong had done all the running on a counter attack.