Battle for second hots up
Zambia 'bad boy' Clifford Mulenga scored on four minutes to help Bloemfontein Celtic triumph on Wednesday as the South African Premiership resumed after an eight-week mid-season break.
Leaders Mamelodi Sundowns won at AmaZulu and increased their advantage to five points after 16 rounds of the richest national football league on the continent with a USD $1.3 million first prize.
Closest challengers SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs came from behind to draw and Moroka Swallows won to join them in second place while Ajax Cape Town scored twice in stoppage time for a dramatic success.
Mulenga, who stands out on the pitch with his multi-colour mohican hairstyle, hit the quickest goal of the night to set up Celtic for a 3-2 win over Golden Arrows as he tried to put a 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations nightmare behind him.
He was kicked out of the squad after the first round in Equatorial Guinea by French coach Herve Renard for not apologising after breaking the curfew with several team-mates.
While the midfielder returned to South Africa in disgrace, his team-mates repeatedly defied the odds and defeated Côte d'Ivoire on penalties in Libreville last Sunday to lift the trophy for the first time.
The Bloemfontein club are seventh in the table, nine points behind Sundowns, whose 1-0 win over AmaZulu in the Indian Ocean city of Durban came from a Lebohang Mokoena goal with 11 minutes left.
Rudiger Gilbert put Free State Stars ahead against SuperSport United near Pretoria and new signing Franklin Cale levelled before half-time in a match temporarily halted by floodlight failure.
Jomo Cosmos rose from bottom place on goal difference after holding Chiefs 1-1 in Port Elizabeth with Mark Haskins putting the underdogs ahead 15 minutes from time and Lehlohonolo Majoro equalising.
Defending champions Orlando Pirates looked rusty after the long break and had to settle for a 1-0 win over new basement occupants Black Leopards in Soweto thanks to an early flying header from Thulasizwe Mbuyane. The win sees the fifth-placed Pirates trail Sundowns by seven points.
Ajax appeared doomed as they trailed Platinum Stars 2-0 two minutes from time in Cape Town only to snatch maximum points through goals from a Lebogang Manyama penalty, Matthew Booth and Cecil Lolo.