JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs ended a two-match losing streak in the Premiership with a 1-0 win over Black Leopards in a tightly-contested match at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.
A goal five minutes before halftime from Willard Katsande was enough for the Soweto giants to pick up maximum points, although it took a fine display in goal from Itumeleng Khune to ensure victory over a gallant visiting team.
Leopards were to have the first chances of the night, with Khune coming to his side’s rescue when he denied Mwape Musonda in a one-on-one situation in the seventh minute, before also keeping out an effort from Phathutshedzo Nange a minute later.
At the other end, the hosts had an opportunity when Leonardo Castro set up Dumsani Zuma, but he failed to hit the target.
There were also half-chances for Leopards, but Chris Katjiukua and Lesedi Kapinga were unable to alter the scoreline.
Those moments aside, though, neither team looked much of a threat in the opposition half, with Chiefs in particular battling to find any fluency.
But that was to change as the interval neared as they suddenly picked things up, starting when Khama Billiat went close from 20 yards out after being invited to shoot by Godfrey Walusimbi.
What turned out to be the winning goal came moments later, as Ramahlwe Mphahlele flicked on a 40th-minute corner kick from Billiat, which enabled Katsande to pounce with a header from five yards out.
Some sloppy defending from Amakhosi 10 minutes into the second half gave the Limpopo outfit the chance to equalise, but again Khune did very well as he came out to block Karabo Tsepe from close range, before Lifa Hlongwane missed the target on the follow-up.
Chiefs then took the ball up to the opposite end of the pitch and looked set to double their lead when Mario Booysen arrived unmarked in the box to get on the end of a cross, but his header was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Lidoda Duvha keeper King Ndlovu.
The game remained on a knife-edge, making for riveting viewing as both teams pushed and probed for a breakthrough.
Leopards were certainly still very much in the game, and Khune was at it again when he showed fantastic reflexes to keep out Eden Nene’s point-blank volley in the 74th minute.
Opportunities then followed for the Glamour Boys to kill off the game, but Bhongolwethu Jayiya miscued with a back-post volley, before Billiat had a shot in the box blocked.
Khune was called into action again to save a Marks Munyai free kick late on, with Chiefs ultimately able to survive the final few minutes without much threat to their goal as they moved to within five points of log leaders Orlando Pirates.
African News Agency (ANA)