BETHLEHEM – Free State Stars moved four points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a 4-1 league win over AmaZulu at Goble Park on Saturday afternoon.
An early goal from Martin Kizza and a strike midway through the second half from Relebogile Mokhuoane had put Stars 2-0 up before Talent Chawaphiwa pulled a goal back for AmaZulu in the 69th minute, only for Eleazar Rodgers to add a third for the hosts from the penalty spot in the 71st minute. The result was sealed beyond doubt for Stars with a fourth from Harris Tchilimbou in added time.
Ea Lla Koto were off to just the start they were looking for when with only three minutes on the clock, Kizza fired a shot through a crowd of players past Siyabonga Mbatha and into the back of the net.
The hosts could have extended their lead a few minutes later when Rodgers headed goalwards, but Mbatha was there to make the save, before another chance fell the way of Mpho Khabane, but he fired over the bar.
AmaZulu's first real opportunity arrived in the 22nd minute and fell the way of Chawaphiwa, but he too was unable to keep the effort under the crossbar.
The remainder of the first half failed to produce much goalmouth action and instead deteriorated into an overly physical encounter as some heavy tackles came in from both teams.
Usuthu did manage to end the opening stanza on the front foot and they were close to finding an equaliser eight minutes after the interval, when Stars defender Sibusiso Mabiliso got back to clear Thabiso Nkoana's effort off the line.
That moment was to prove crucial as the hosts went on to double their lead soon after, Relebogile Mokhuoane curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net on 63 minutes.
However, there was still life in the Durban team and they were back in the game six minutes later when Chawaphiwa scored a stunner to reduce the deficit to one.
But instead of pushing for an equaliser, the visitors conceded another goal when former Ea Lla Koto defender Sadat Ouro-Akoriko fouled Rodgers in the box, with the big man himself converting from the spot to make it 3-1 in the 71st minute.
With time just about up, deep into the referee’s optional time - Tchilimbou secured the emphatic scoreline with his strike.
African News Agency (ANA)