George Maluleka and Gustavo Paez scored on either side of half-time to hand Kaizer Chiefs an important win over Bloemfontein Celtic away on Wednesday and lifted them to second place in the Premier Soccer League standings.
The result kept up Chiefs’ long-standing dominance over the Free State club, who have now not beaten AmaKhosi in their last 18 head-to-head encounters and gone 18 hours now against Chiefs without scoring.
But Celtic will be more concerned with the fact they are just two points above the relegation zone as they lost for the first time since new coach Luc Eyamel joined the club.
“The important thing is to recover for the next won against Chippa,” said Steve Komphela, whose Chiefs team play on Saturday at Mbombela Stadium against Chippa United.
“The games are coming thick and fast,” said a smiling Komphela.
Maluleka’s strike came with the first real effort of the game as he sneaked away from the markers into space on the right of Chiefs’ attack, receiving a perfect pass from Joseph Molongoane and hitting a strong shot across the face of the goal to give Patrick Tignyemb no chance.
The poor condition of the pitch made it difficult for both teams to get any flow going to their respective games and there was also a heavy turn over of possession.
But Chiefs should have doubled their lead just past the half hour mark when Siphiwe Tshabalala floated into space behind the Celtic defence and Bernard Parker found him with an excellent pass.
But with his back to goal, Tshabalala needed a perfect first touch to bring won the ball and be able to turn but did not control the ball with the correct precision and allowed Alfred Ndengane to make a decisive tackle.
It took 37 minutes before Lyle Lakay got the home team’s first effort on goal. It was no difficult to see why they have the poorest attack in the league with just 13 goals in 23 leagues games.
Lakay struck wide and was quickly followed by another effort from outside the area from Musa Nyatama that Khune tipped over.
Celtic came out in the second half with extra intent and Lantshene Phalane had a strike that went wide while Lakay also claimed a penalty after being shoulder charged by Maluleka but got no sympathy from the referee.
Paez, who came on and rescued Chiefs’ cup campaign last Sunday, scored his first league goal after Ndengane tapped away a Celtic free kick in the midfield and Chiefs reacted quickly to set Paez sway with just Tignyemb to beat. The Venezuelan striker struck superbly for a third goal in as many days after his pair against Acornbush United.
Chiefs held out for vital points which have therm just above Cape Town City on goal difference and two points behind leaders Bidvest Wits.