Chiefs sweat for fifth win
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Their most frustrating 90 minutes this season saw Kaizer Chiefs still manage to extend their winning run to five matches, with a 1-0 Absa Premiership victory over Bloemfontein Celtic last night.
After earning their prior wins with tempo and efficiency, Chiefs lost their rhythm against a well-structured Celtic for most of last night’s game.
But again, with the chips proverbially on the slow burner, Amakhosi showed patience and resolve, and produced a result. Labouring in a slow-paced match, from nowhere Amakhosi sprang a 79th-minute move that saw an on-form trio produce a fine killer goal.
George Maluleka’s pass set George Lebese free on the right, who squared for winger Mandla Masango to bury his fourth strike of the season. Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter had the same starting line-up used now in all his side’s four league and cup wins. Amakhosi have come off some high intensity victories. It has seemingly been a poser for Amakhosi in recent seasons that they play away matches in front of big crowds, against fired up opponents, then return to a cavernously Spartan home stadium.
A pitiful crowd turned out last night. If it was Celtic coach Ernst Middendorp’s plan to slow things down, it was spot-on. In the first half Chiefs struggled to lift themselves above the pace. And the predicted threat from Celtic striker Gabadinho Mhango was always there. Ten minutes into the game, Mhango’s powerful shot from the right edge was tipped for a corner by Itumeleng Khune.
Amakhosi did end the half stronger. Sometimes it’s easy to see why Kingston Nkhatha is so maligned. Put through by Masango’s pass down the middle, the striker had some attention from defender Bevan Fransman, but not enough to trip over himself. Maluleka had space on the right for Chiefs in injury time, shooting wide across goal.
As was the case with their 2-0 MTN8 semifinal win against Platinum Stars in Rustenburg at the weekend, Chiefs found their stride in the second half. Lebese’s free-kick from the left in the 53rd minute was curled sumptuously onto the crossbar. Sensing a shift, Middendorp introduced Lerato Lamola for the ineffective Joel Mogorosi.
Then the Maluleka-Lebese-Masango lightning bolt earned Amakhosi a deserved victory Meanwhile, Ajax Cape Town beat Polokwane City 2-1 at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
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