Maluleka double gives Chiefs one foot in the final

Kaizer Chiefs have one foot in the final of the MTN8 after claiming a 2-0 away win over Platinum Stars in a semifinal, first leg clash at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday night.

George Maluleka’s superb brace of second-half goals was enough to separate the teams, who will meet for the second leg at FNB Stadium next week Sunday. The winner of the tie will face either Bidvest Wits or Orlando Pirates in next month’s final.

Chiefs started the brighter of the two teams and almost claimed an early lead through Maluleka, whose glancing header from a corner kick flashed just off target in the eighth minute.

Stars’ first chance arrived just before the midway point of the first half, with Tintswalo Tshabalala flicking on a Vuyo Mere free kick, but Itumeleng Khune made a fine diving save low to his left.

Less than a minute later the ball fell kindly for Robert Ng’ambi in the penalty area, but his left-footed volley was tipped onto the crossbar by Khune, and shortly thereafter Ndumiso Mabena had a glorious chance to lob the ball over the stranded ‘keeper but failed to find the target.

The visitors’ best chance of the first 45 arrived just a couple of minutes before the break. Siboniso Gaxa provided a great cross and Mandla Masango’s effort, which was more off his shoulder than his head, went straight into the arms of Siyabonga Mpontshane.

Chiefs broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half. A corner kick saw Kingston Nkhatha’s effort headed off the line by Luvolwethu Mpeta, but the ball went only as far as Maluleka, who belted home a volley through the crowded penalty area to make it 1-0.

With 15 minutes of regulation time left Chiefs should have doubled their lead. George Lebese provided a great pull-back from the left by-line for Reneilwe Letsholonyane, but the dreadlocked midfielder shot over the bar under pressure from a defender.

That miss almost cost the Amakhosi dearly, with substitute Joseph Banyane providing a perfect cross to the back post for Mpeta, only for the defender to blaze a shot high over the bar and blow Stars’ best chance for an equaliser.

Maluleka added a brilliant second goal in the last minute of the 90, firing a shot direct from a free kick into the back of the net via the inside of Mpontshane’s right-hand post. The ‘keeper made a valiant effort, but had no chance of stopping Maluleka’s precise shot.

Platinum Stars 0

Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Maluleka 51’ 90’)

Teams:

Platinum Stars: Mpontshane, Mere, Gumede, Semenya, Mpeta, Mathe, Madubanya (Nguzana 72’), Nyanda, Ng’ambi, Tshabalala (Banyane 60’), Mabena (Manzini 84’)

Kaizer Chiefs: Khune, Gaxa, Mashamaite, Mathoho, Masilela, Letsholonyane (Bukenya 90+2’), Katsande, Masango, Maluleka, Lebese (Gould 88’), Nkhatha (Mthembu 77’)