Chiefs, Pirates hot on heels of Sundowns
Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates won convincingly on Wednesday and closed the gap on South African Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to two points.
Chiefs triumphed 3-1 at home to lowly AmaZulu with Kaizer Motaung - a son of the club chairman - heading two first-half goals and Zimbabwean Zhaimu Jambo clinching maximum points with a late strike. Pirates rediscovered their scoring form with a 2-0 victory against top-half club Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban and Zambian midfielder Isaac Chansa fired a superb opening goal.
Sundowns had to play the last 18 minutes a man short after Lebohang Mokoena was shown a red card and were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw at sixth-placed Bloemfontein Celtic.
The shock result of the round came in kwaZulu-Natal where Namibian Rudolf Bester grabbed a second-half brace in a 3-0 triumph for lowly Maritzburg United over top-four opponents Ajax Cape Town.
Expensively-assembled Sundowns have 31 points from 15 matches as they chase a record sixth Premiership title, Chiefs and Pirates 29 apiece, Ajax 27 and Santos and Celtic 25 each.
Chiefs needed maximum points after losing at Ajax last Friday and were in control apart from a brief second-half spell when Namibian Tangeni Shipahu scored to halve the deficit. Midfielder Chansa bent the ball past Brazilian goalkeeper Helton da Rocha on 26 minutes from the edge of the penalty area and an early second-half own goal by Siyabonga Sangweni sealed Arrows fate.
Sundowns started as if they were going to tear Celtic apart in the Free State provincial capital and South Africa striker Katlego Mphela scored with a diving header just seven minutes into the game. But Celtic gradually asserted territorial dominance and a superb pass from Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder Denis Kalala led to the equaliser on the stroke of half-time from Thokozani Mshengu.
Maritzburg bounced back from a weekend mauling by Sundowns to take an early lead through Gert Schalkwyk, Bester converted a penalty soon after half-time and got his second goal with 13 minutes left. On-loan midfielder Koketso Mmotong struck twice as Moroka Swallows defeated Mpumalanga Black Aces 3-1 in a bottom-of-the-table Soweto showdown and moved six points clear of their fellow strugglers.