Bidvest Wits thrash hapless Free State Stars

Thulani Hlatshwayo © Backpagepix

Bidvest Wits began their 2018/19 Absa Premiership season with a 3-0 victory over Free State Stars at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday evening.

The victory took the Clever Boys to the top of the league standings, while Ea Lla Koto are placed 16th on the table.

The Clever Boys were the better side in the opening stages of the game and threatened first through Cole Alexander seven minutes into the game.

The attacking midfielder found some space outside the Stars box and he unleashed a shot which sailed over the crossbar.

Wits then deservedly took the deadlock three minutes later through their inspirational captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.

The central defender scored with a tap in to make it 1-0 to Wits following a good move by the hosts with Terrance Dzvukamanja grabbing an assist.

Ea Lla Koto had a chance to respond with a goal following a mistake in the Wits defence in the 12th minute.

However, Stars' playmaker Goodman Dlamini hit the upright with Wits goalkeeper Darren Keet beaten and the hosts survived a scare.

Namibia international Deon Hotto, who was making his official debut for Wits, was looking lively for the home side.

The skillful winger delivered a good cross into Stars box in the 20th minute and goalkeeper Badre Ali Sangare was forced to gather the ball.

The Clever Boys did double their lead on the half-hour mark when Hotto's free-kick found Mxolisi Macuphu, who headed home to make it 2-0 to Wits.

Ea Lla Koto tried to push for the equalising goal with their new centre forward Eleazar Rodgers leading the visitors' attack.

However, Wits held on their lead and they were 2-0 up at the interval having dominated the first-half.

Stars came back rejuvenated after their halftime team talk with their Belgian coach Luc Eymael.

The visitors came very close to pulling one back through Sinethemba Jantjie 12 minutes into the second-half.

The attacking midfielder beat his marker, before forcing Wits shot-stopper Keet into magnificent save - finger-tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Eymael then decided to pull out Jantjie and he introduced Yusf Jappie in the 64th minute as Ea Lla Koto looked to score their first goal.

Ea Lla Koto pushed forward in numbers, but they were left vulnerable at the back in the closing stages of the game.

The Clever Boys punished the visitors in the 74th minute as Hotto beat Sangare from close range to make it 3-0 to Wits following a quick move by the hosts.

Stars then launched late attacks in the dying minutes of the game as they looked to grab a late consolation goal.

However, Stars stood firm at the back and ultimately, they emerged 3-0 winners over Stars on the evening.

Wits (2) 3 (Hlatshwayo 8', Macuphu 30', Hotto 74')

FS Stars (0) 0

Wits: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Johannes, Monare, Hotto, Hlanti, Mkhwanazi, Alexander, Motupa (Mzwakali 81'), Macuphu (Murray 90'), Dzvukamanja (Pelembe 63').

FS Stars: Sangare, Masehe, Mbhele (Mobbie 77'), Mahamutsa, Keita, Klaas (Matlakala 54'), Makhaula, Tchilimbou, Janjtie (Jappie 64'), Dlamini, Rodgers.