THABO Moloi scored a late equalizer to dim Kaizer Chiefs’ hopes of retaining the Absa Premiership title in an encounter played at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Katlego Mphela opened the scoring from the bench in the 68th minute, but he was outdone by relatively unknown Thabo Moloi, who prodded in from close range to ease Stars’ fears of relegation.
Stuart Baxter named the same starting XI that was held to a goalless draw by Bidvest Wits last time out.
Kinnah Phiri made no fewer than five changes to the side that lost 3-2 at home to Mpumalanga Black Aces on Saturday.
Top scorer Richard Henyekane and Bafana Bafana midfielder Luyolo Nomandela notably dropped out to make way for Abdul Basit and Sibusiso Mthethwa.
Chiefs stated their intent from the onset, pushing forward in search of an early goal to ease the nerves inside the 2010 World Cup stadium.
Bernard Parker and Erick Mathoho headed over Ayanda Mtshali’s crossbar early on as the Amakhosi piled on the pressure.
Abdul-Basit went close for the visitors in the 13th minute, his miss-timed effort going narrowly wide of Itumeleng Khune’s right hand post.
Mtshali made a good save at his near post to deny Parker in the 27th minute. Siphiwe Tshabalala made a driving run into the area before setting up Parker who failed to find a way past the Stars gloves man.
Chiefs battled to find a way past a determined Stars defence in the opening stanza.
Ea Lla Koto seemed content with a point as they looked to soothe any lingering relegation pains.
Parker’s towering header shaved the woodwork early on in the second half as the Glamour Boys continued to search for the opener.
Katlego Mphela opened his account in a Kaizer Chiefs jersey in the 68th minute to send the home fans into delirium.
The ball bobbled off the crossbar into the path of ‘Killer’, who made no mistake, nodding in from close range.
Stars, who are in desperate need of points themselves, were now forced to pile forward and found the equaliser through Thabo Moloi in the 83rd minute.
Luyolo Nomandela made a storming run down the left flank before playing a low cross into the area, the cross evaded three Chiefs defenders before finding Moloi who poked in at the far post to break Amakhosi hearts.
Chiefs now trail log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by four points, knowing that if the Brazilians manage to trump Tshwane rivals SuperSport United next week Pitso Mosimane’s men will be crowned the new Absa Premiership champions.
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 1 (Mphela 68′)
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Moloi 83′)
Kaizer Chiefs: Khune; Masilela, Mathoho, Mashamaite, Masilela, Letsholonyane, Katsande, Lebese (Mphela 62′), Tshabalala, Parker, Nkhatha
Free State Stars: Mtshali; Cardoso, Thlone (Nomandela 69′), Mthethwa, Masehe, Mashego, Basie, Shabalala, Abdul-Basit (Henyekane 61′), Sekola, Abraw (Moloi 75′).
In another league match played tonight BidVest Wits and Orlando Pirates played to a goalless draw at the BidVest Stadium.-Backpage TXT