CAPE TOWN – Basement dwellers AmaZulu shocked hosts Bloemfontein Celtic with a 2-1 win in their PSL Absa Premiership match at the Dr Molemela Stadium, Bloemfontein, on Sunday afternoon.
AmaZulu came into the match as underdogs since they failed to win their last five league encounters and also to score a goal during that time. The result against the eighth-placed Celtic allows AmaZulu to move from a second-last log position (15th) to 12th place.
Straight from the kick-off, Celtic imposed themselves on the match with fast-paced moves into the AmaZulu half. In the opening four minutes they created at least two scoring chances, but their finishing was poor.
Celtic's pressure persisted and after 15 minutes they had forced four corners but couldn't capitalise on the set-pieces.
AmaZulu kept their challenge alive with counter-attacks which proved penetrative but they often their way just ahead of the Celtic penalty area.
Their best first-half scoring chance materialised in the 26th minute when their front-runners overran the ball after Celtic failed to deal with a goalmouth cross coming in from the right.
Celtic finally came good in the 29th minute after they hoofed an innocuous kick upfield from the halfway line. AmaZulu's earlier dubious defence came back to haunt them as they failed to clear the high-bouncing ball. Siphelele Luthuli pounced with a leap to head the ball against the upright and then it ricocheted into the net (1-0).
It was his eighth goal this season, and interestingly he is the only AmaZulu player to score after 14 league matches this season.
There was no sign of a fightback from AmaZulu as Celtic continued to call shots until the 40th minute when AmaZulu set off on a sortie down their left flank. After it went unchecked, Sphesihle Maduna reeled in a low cross into the central goalmouth area. Three Celtic defenders failed to act and unmarked Bonginkosi Ntuli, plumb in front of goal, scored the equaliser (1-1).
By halftime, Celtic had enjoyed a 65% possession advantage, but they trailed 5-7 in the shots for goal (off target and on target) count.
After the break, AmaZulu showed far enterprise as Celtic allowed them far more time on the ball. However, their build-up work looked promising, but Celtic's defence had little difficulty in coping with the threat.
Just ahead of the hour mark, Celtic's pressure produced three corners in the space of four minutes but AmaZulu's defence lived a charmed life as set-pieces came and went without making an impact.
Three minutes later, AmaZulu silenced the singing home crowd with a goal against the play. Substitute Butholezwe Ncube weaved his way past two Celtic defenders before unleashing a low drive past the Celtic keeper Jackson Mabokgwane to give his side an unlikely 2-1 lead.
There was no lack of endeavour as Celtic set out to repair the damage with a greater sense of urgency in their ranks. In their efforts to find the equaliser, their midfield neglected defence and a few AmaZulu counter-attacks proved troublesome to close down.
In the closing stages, both sets of defences remained intact although Celtic came within a whisker of scoring two minutes ahead of the final whistle.