CAPE TOWN – Kaizer Chiefs rode their luck in a 1-0 league win over Baroka FC at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night.
This Absa Premiership victory sends Ernst Middendorp's team three points clear of Polokwane City at the top of the table, with the Limpopo side set to play away at Highlands Park on Sunday.
Baroka, who struck the post in the final two minutes of the game, were to enjoy the better of the first-half chances as Chiefs struggled to find much rhythm in attack.
Yet it was the home side who were to go in front through Lebogang Manyama's controversial 39th-minute goal.
The first clear opportunity of the evening arrived in the 18th minute when Baroka striker Richard Mbulu stormed through on goal, but Chiefs keeper Itumeleng Khune came up trumps as he bravely rushed off his line to make the block.
That, however, was to be the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper's last major involvement as he was forced to leave the field soon after with a hamstring issue - in just his second match back in action after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
The Soweto side were also to lose George Maluleka to a thigh strain before the interval, with his place taken by Willard Katsande.
Khune meanwhile was replaced by Daniel Akpeyi, who made a couple of important saves soon after coming on as the visitors continued to enjoy the upper hand.
It was therefore against the run of play that Amakhosi took the lead six minutes before half time when Khama Billiat's cross located Lazarous Kambole, whose shot was saved by Elvis Chipezeze, with the rebound providing a simple tap-in for Manyama. Replays showed however that Kambole had been off-sides, but with VAR not implemented in the PSL, the goal stood.
Still searching for his first Chiefs goal, Kambole should have scored three minutes after the break, but from close range, he ballooned his shot over the bar.
At the other end, Baroka continued to ask questions of the Chiefs defence, with Tshediso Patjie not far off with two attempts, before Manuel Kambala drew an excellent save from Akpeyi with a shot from distance that was heading for the top corner.
The action now end-to-end, the Soweto side were unlucky not to add a second goal when Billiat thumped a 30-yard drive against the crossbar.
Billiat missed another couple of chances to add a second, while Baroka also had a couple of openings as they pushed hard for an equaliser - but it wasn't to be for the Limpopo club as they hit the woodwork not once, but twice in added time – through Gerald Phiri and Martin Nsimbi.