By Sports Focus Reporter
Kaizer Chiefs secured a hard-fought 2-0 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday evening, a result which keeps them very much in the race for the Absa Premiership title and mathematically confirms AmaZayoni’s relegation to the National First Division.
In other matches on Saturday, Supersport United lashed Santos 5-2, while Moroka Swallows pipped Vasco da Gama by 3-2. AmaZulu v Mamelodi Sundowns was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Moses Mabhida in Durban.
In rainy Polokwane, Amakhosi skipper Jimmy Tau and inspirational striker Knowledge Musona scored the goals for their side – who had been reduced to ten men – securing a vital victory that sends them up to second place on goal difference.
Aces, meanwhile, are now certain to finish bottom of the log. They trail 15th-placed Moroka Swallows by ten points and have just three more league matches left to play.
Chiefs started brightly and almost took the lead in the third minute – Knowledge Musona helped a cross toward goal and Denis Onyango needed to make a sharp reaction save to keep the ball out of the net.
The Aces goalkeeper was called on to make a couple more saves in the opening minutes, denying Abia Nale and Punch Masenamela, while Mthokozisi Yende hit a thunderous drive just over the crossbar in the 17th minute.
After weathering the early storm, AmaZayoni looked relatively comfortable in defence. Chiefs certainly dominated the midfield battle and enjoyed a far greater share of the possession, but they were unable to create the kind of attacking opportunities that they did in the first quarter hour or so.
Aces created only one chance in the first half, but it was a good one – striker Mpho Maleka sprinted free down the right of the penalty area and struck a low shot on target that called Itumeleng Khune into action for the first time.
After a goalless first 45 minutes, Chiefs opted to reinforce their attacking options by introducing striker Sthembiso Ngcobo in place of Yende at the start of the second half, and left-winger George Lebese in place of Nale ten minutes later.
On the hour mark Onyango again frustrated the Chiefs supporters who had made the trip north to Polokwane, punching away a fierce shot from Musona as the Soweto side began to up the pressure on their opponents.
However, on 65 minutes they were reduced to ten men. Maleka threatened to sprint free on goal and central defender Valery Nahayo blatantly hauled down the Aces striker. As it was a clear and cynical denial of a goal scoring opportunity, referee Robert Sithole had no choice but to show Nahayo a straight red card.
Yet despite going a man down, Chiefs broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute. A slip from Fabian McCarthy in the penalty area allowed Jimmy Tau to square a pass for Lebese; Onyango denied the winger from close range but the ball fell kindly for Tau, who stroked it home to make it 1-0.
The Amakhosi’s lead was almost very short lived – just three minutes after Tau’s goal, Maleka was handed a one-on-one scoring chance but Khune made a brave block at the attacker’s feet to keep his team’s advantage intact.
After Lebese had almost doubled Chiefs’ advantage – hitting the post after brilliantly rounding Onyango – it was Musona who made sure of the win for the Soweto giants in the second minute of injury time, using his skill and speed to skin Warren Bishop before beating Onyango with an angled shot.
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Tau 73’, Musona 90+2’)
MP Black Aces 0
Teams: (4-2-3-1) Khune; Tau, Nahayo, Sweswe, Masenamela; Nengomasha, Letsholonyane; Dladla (Isaacs 68’), Yende (Ngcobo 46’), Nale (Lebese 56’); Musona
Aces: (4-4-2) Onyango; Mbatha (Spelman 77’), Bishop, McCarthy, Henyekane; Makhanya, Khanyile (Zuke 63’), Mathebula, Masondo; Maleka, Shongwe (Ngwenya 66’) Referee: Robert Sithole Cautions: Tau, Musona; Bishop, Khanyile Dismissal: Nahayo 65’