Chiefs sit above the rest, after taming Leopards

Eric Mathoho © Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs have gone to the top of the Absa Premiership after claiming a narrow 1-0 win over Black Leopards at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.

Defender Eric Mathoho scored the decisive goal for the Amakhosi for the second week in a row, with the Soweto giants leading the log on goals scored ahead of Polokwane City (who also have six points and a plus-two goal difference).

Lidoda Duvha, meanwhile, are second from bottom on zero points. Only AmaZulu, who also suffered a second straight loss today, are below them on the log.

Chiefs looked lively early on and claimed the lead in the 12th minute. A George Maluleka corner kick drew goalkeeper Jonas Mendes off his line but curled beautifully into the path of Eric Mathoho, who easily powered home a header for his second goal of the season.

The Soweto side remained on top through the remainder of the first half, though they were unable to create any further clear-cut chances. Their best opportunity arrived in the 38th minute when Lazarous Kambola attempted to sprint onto a through pass, but he was beaten to the ball by a sharp Mendes.

The first half wrapped with the Amakhosi leading 1-0, while Leopards had been unable to offer any true threat to goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi (who was a late replacement for Bruce Bvuma) despite enjoying a fair amount of possession.

Chiefs made a change at the start of the second half, with Leonardo Castro giving way for the introduction of Dumisani Zuma, while Leopards waited until just after the hour mark to introduce Joseph Mhlongo in place of Lifa Hlongwane.

Lidoda Duvha began to enjoy more and more of the ball as the second half wore on, but Chiefs looked dangerous whenever given the chance to counter, with the likes of Zuma, Bernard Parker and Kambole notable figures on transition from defence to attack.

On 76 minutes Chiefs should have wrapped up the game when Lebogang Manyama was given a one-on-one chance after bursting through the Leopards defence, but he was denied by an excellent save from Mendes.

Ten minutes later, George Maluleka almost doubled Chiefs’ lead with a shot from just outside the penalty area – his effort had the beating of Mendes, but clipped the top of the crossbar.

Leopards, to their credit, never gave up and nearly claimed a share of the spoils with an injury-time free kick which Akpeyi tipped over his crossbar. In the end, the Amakhosi held out for a nervy but deserved 1-0 win.

Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Mathoho 12’)

Black Leopards 0

Chiefs: Akpeyi, Frosler, Mathoho, Cardoso, Ntiyantiya (Gordinho 87’), Parker (Baccus 83’), Maluleka, Manyama, Kambole, Nurkovic, Castro (Zuma 46’)

Leopards: Mendes, Matlaba, Katjiukua, Masia, Zulu, Mokoena, Khutlang, Mudau (Phala 75’), Hlongwane (Mhlongo 62’), Bereng (Kapinga 67’), Malajila