|Mame Niang © Backpagepix
University of Pretoria climbed to second place in the Absa Premiership when they defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 at the Free State Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Letladi Madubanya equalised for Celtic late in the first half after Mame Niang had put the visitors ahead, but Bongani Zungu scored the winner for the visitors midway through the second half.
The first half saw both sides evenly-matched in terms of ball possession, but it was the visitors who looked to be a threat in the final third with Niang causing problems for the Celtic defence.
The lanky striker signaled his intentions as early as the second minute when he directed his header goalwards from the far post, but Patrick Tignyemb was able to make a low save.
However, AmaTuks took the lead in the 18th minute when Tignyemb blocked a powerful left-footed shot from Aubrey Ngoma, but Niang was on hand to head the rebound into the back of the net.
The Senegalese forward should have grabbed his brace three minutes later when a cross from Ramahlwe Mphahlele fell kindly for him inside the box, but somehow he nudged his shot wide.
Niang made his aerial presence felt again in the 31st minute when he knocked the ball down towards the edge of the six yard box where Bongani Zungu and Buhle Mkhwanazi were lurking, but neither of the two players were able to make a connection.
Celtic, who had already had a goal correctly ruled out for offside and another for an earlier infringement, got their first genuine chance to level matters in the 39th minute
Joel Mogorosi was left unmarked in the box and managed to connect with an Auguston Leonard freekick, but his header bounced in front of goal and then went narrowly over the bar.
The hosts were then gifted a chance to level the scores two minutes before the break when they were awarded an indirect freekick when AmaTuks goalkeeper Washington Arubi held on to the ball for longer than six seconds.
The goalkeeper was able to blocked Leonard’s strike on the line but there was nothing he could do as Madubanya tapped the ball over the line from close range to send the two sides into the break with the score level on 1-1.
The second half did not start as openly as the first, but in the 58th minute the hosts came close to taking the lead for the first time when Lyle Lakay met a cross from Madubanya on the volley, but his effort was blocked by Arubi.
However, Steve Barker’s men were able to restore their lead in the 71st minute when Ngoma placed a brilliant through-pass to release Zungu, who showed his composure as he placed the ball past Tignyemb.
Celtic had chances to force a draw towards the end of the match but Arubi managed to block Bacela’s header at the near post in the 80th minute, before parrying another glancing header from Madubanya in injury time.
Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 1 (Madubanya 43’)
University of Pretoria (1) 2 (Niang 18’, Zungu 71’)
Bloemfontein Celtic: Tignyemb, Nthethe, Mzava (Motshegwa 77’), Motlhaping, Leonard, Mogorosi (Gamildien 65’), Madubanya, Lakay, Arwuah, Bacela, Manzini (Nyanda 78’)
University of Pretoria: Arubi, Shoyisa (Monyai 46’), Mphahlele, Bishop, Matsi, Selolwane (Ngwenya 64’), Mkhwanazi, Ngoma (Lubelo 89’), Ketjijere, Niang, Zungu