Stars maintain pressure in title race

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Stars_Celtic Gallo Images Dominic Issak tackles Henrico Botes during the Absa Premiership match between Platinum Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic.

Johannesburg – A goal in either half handed high-flying Platinum Stars a 2-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic in their Premiership encounter in Phokeng, outside Rustenburg, on Wednesday night.

After a tame start to the match, Thuso Phala took the first shot in anger for Stars in the 21st minute, but his effort from the edge of the area was parried away by Celtic goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.

Four minutes later, Henrico Botes put the hosts in front when he blasted the ball into the top left corner from close range.

Celtic eventually broke through in the latter stages of the opening period, and Kurt Lentjies took a long-range shot in the 39th minute which sailed wide to the right.

The hosts then created two opportunities in quick succession, but Mogakolodi Ngele's strike was saved by Tignyemb, and Botes sent his header over the crossbar.

Thabo Nthethe had an opportunity to equalise in the dying minutes of the first half, but Stars keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was up to the task as he kept his side in front at the break.

Both sides were wayward in the second stanza, with Celtic's Lerato Manzini taking the first attempt at goal nine minutes after the restart, but his close-range shot missed to the right.

Phala was then awarded a free kick after he was brought down by Limbikani Mzava, and Patrick Malokase connected with a header from the set piece, but his effort was saved by Tignyemb.

Stars had another attempt soon after, but Patrick Malokase blasted his strike wide, and with less than 20 minutes left, Manzini sent a header sailing to the left of the posts.

Robert Ng'ambi sealed all three points for the home side in the 79th minute with a close-range strike as Stars held on to third position in the league standings.

Celtic, meanwhile, picked up their eighth defeat in 17 league games this season. – Sapa

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