Johannesburg - Cuthbert Malajila scored a first-half brace, laying the foundation as Maritzburg United fought back from a goal down for a 2-1 win over a wayward Bloemfontein Celtic outfit at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night.

The victory, Maritzburg's fourth in nine games this season, saw them climb to fourth place in the Premiership standings.

Luyanda Bacela struck as early as the third minute, from long range, to put Celtic in front, and the visitors had a chance to stretch the gap two minutes later but Joel Mogorosi hit the crossbar.

Malajila turned the game around for the home side, scoring twice within eight minutes to put Maritzburg in charge.

A desperate Celtic side pushed forward with intent but they were shut out, with Bacela, Kenoshi Motshegwa and Byron Hendricks either missing wide or sending shots sailing over the bar.

The visitors continued to fire after the break, and Maritzburg keeper Shuaib Walters was kept on his toes, but they continued to struggle to find the equaliser.

Mduduzi Nyanda had a chance for Celtic in the 59th minute but he fired wide to the right.

While Maritzburg created few chances in the game, they were threatening when they surged ahead, and Ryan De Jongh slammed an effort against the post with less than half an hour left in the match.

Celtic had one last opportunity to salvage a point but Dominic Isaacs sent his effort sailing over the bar as Maritzburg closed the gap on the early pace setters at the top of the table. - Sapa