Durban: AmaZulu FC claimed a thrilling 4-3 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in a 2020-21 DStv Premiership match at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Usuthu remain seventh on the league standings as a result – but just a point behind sixth-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows who are in action at home to Orlando Pirates this evening, while Phunya Sele Sele continue to occupy 12th spot.
Usuthu were the better side in the opening stages of the match with Siphelele Mthembu looking to use his imposing physique to unsettle the Phunya Sele Sele defence.
The former Bafana Bafana international was involved when the home side opened the scoring 12 minutes into the match as he fought for the ball in the box which fell kindly for his teammate Augustine Mulenga. The Zambia international made no mistake as he controlled the ball before beating Celtic goalkeeper Sipho Chaine for his third goal of the season.
Phunya Sele Sele then pressed Usuthu and Veli Mothwa became a busy man in the hosts’ goal as he produced two fantastic saves to deny Motebang Sera from close range, as the visitors probed for the equalising goal.
The former Chippa United goalkeeper was eventually beaten in the 30th minute when Siphelele Luthuli played a brilliant defence-splitting pass for Harris Tchilimbou, who fired past Mothwa to make it 1-1.
Usuthu then regained control of the match with Siyethemba Sithebe making some dangerous runs from midfield, but the dreadlocked-player narrowly missed the target with two powerful shots as the scored remained deadlocked at 1-1 at the interval.
The hosts began the second-half brightly and they managed to restore their lead when Mthembu set-up Sithebe, who turned the ball home from close range to make it 2-1 to AmaZulu in the 51st minute.
The KwaZulu-Natal club did not take their foot off the pedal after scoring as they continued to attack and they were duly awarded a penalty with Thato Lingwati adjudged to have fouled Mulenga in the box.
Tapelo Xoki stepped up to the mark and beat Chaine with a powerful low effort to make it 3-1 to AmaZulu in the 57th minute, but the hosts were forced to substitute Sithebe due to injury soon after.
Celtic head coach John Maduka reacted by introducing Victor Letsoalo, Tebogo Potsane, Given Mashikinya and Menzi Masuku as the visitors looked to fight their way back into the game.
Phunya Sele Sele piled pressure on Usuthu and the decision to introduce Letsoalo paid off as he scored with a header from Lantshene Phalane’s free-kick to make it 3-2 with 13 minutes left on the clock.
The comeback was completed in the 89th minute when Tchilimbou scored from close range after AmaZulu had failed to clear their lines, but this did not deter Benni McCarthy’s troops as they launched late attacks on Celtic’s goal.
The hosts were awarded a free-kick in stoppage time and Xoki scored with a thunderous curling effort from the set-piece to seal a dramatic 4-3 victory for AmaZulu on the day.
AmaZulu (1) 4 (Mulenga 12′, Sithebe 51′, Xoki 57′ 90’+4)
Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 3 (Tchilimbou 30′, 89′, Letsoalo 77′)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Masilela (Mabiliso 72′), Mzava, Xoki, Makhaula (Khumalo 76′), Sithebe (Gumede 60′), Ncube, Mthembu (Majoro 76′), Maduna (Magubane 73′), Mulenga.
Bloemfontein Celtic: Chaine, Baloyi, Ngobeni, Lingwati, Chabalala (Mashikinya 65′), Rikhotso, Phalane (Ndwandwe 82′), Fikizolo (Potsane 65′), Sera (Letsoalo 64′), Luthuli (Masuku 64′), Tchilimbou. Psl.co.za