KAIZER Chiefs stretched their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership to 10 points with a 1-0 WIN over AmaZulu at a rainy Peter Mokaba Stadium on Thursday night.
Bernard Parker scored the only goal of the match to see the Amakhosi move to 57 points at the head of the standings, with Mamelodi Sundowns on 47 points having played a game less than the Soweto giants.
Usuthu, meanwhile, saw their recent unbeaten run (five league matches) come to an end and they remain in last place on the log, two points adrift of Moroka Swallows and Free State Stars having played a game more than their fellow relegation candidates.
After a quiet opening to the match, Chiefs claimed the lead in the 18th minute through Bernard Parker. The forward exchanged passes with Siphiwe Tshabalala on the edge of the penalty area before stepping past the challenge of Mbulelo Mabizela and firing home a low, left-footed shot.
Three minutes later George Lebese nearly doubled the Amakhosi’s advantage, with his long range volley hitting the outside of the post. By this stage the hosts were well on top of proceedings and AmaZulu looked to be struggling to find their feet in the game.
The Durban side gradually found an attacking rhythm, though they were restricted to long range shots in the first half. One such effort from Thabiso Dlamini in the 27th minute forced Itumeleng Khune into a fine save, turning away a low effort for a corner kick.
Usuthu were perhaps lucky not to be reduced to 10 men in the 36th minute when John Arwuah was guilty of a high, studs-up challenge into the midriff of Willard Katsande. The midfielder was only cautioned for the incident, which came in the midst of four other yellow cards for AmaZulu in the space of five minutes.
Usuthu coach Steve Barker opted for two changes early in the second half, sending on two forwards in Ayanda Dlamini and Asive Langwe, but it was a Chiefs substitute, Matthew Rusike, who had the next clear scoring chance, slicing a shot wide of the near post in the 66th minute shortly after replacing Katlego Mphela.
Eleven minutes later the Zimbabwean had another good opportunity after confusion between goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro and Mabizela in the box allowed the ball to break free to the Zimbabwean, but he was unable to capitalise and give his side some breathing space.
There was drama late on when Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune received his marching orders for two quick yellow cards, one for time wasting and the other for remonstrating against the first caution. Replacement ‘keeper Reyaad Pieterse came on for Lebese and the home side saw out the game with 10 men.
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Parker 18’)
Chiefs: Khune, Gaxa, Mathoho, Mashamaite, Masilela, Letsholonyane, Katsande, Parker, Tshabalala (Masango 60’), Lebese (Pieterse 86’), Mphela (Rusike 65’)
AmaZulu: Murambadoro, Hlanti (Liphoko 75’), Mabizela, Ouro-Akoriko, Van Heerden, Johannes, Arwuah, T. Dlamini (Langwe 50’), Nyongo, Mwape (A. Dlamini 46’), Ndulula.-Backpage TXT