Durban: Kaizer Chiefs romped to an incredible 5-3 win over Bloemfontein Celtic at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night to continue their dominance of this season’s Absa Premiership.
Inspired by a hat-trick from Samir Nurkovic, the Amakhosi have now claimed eight straight league wins and enjoy a 10-point lead over nearest chasers SuperSport United. Phunya Sele Sele – who led no less than three times in the match – remain in fifth place, but will need to go back to the drawing board as far as their defence is concerned.
There was little to choose between the teams in the early minutes, but Celtic soon claimed the ascendancy. A brilliant diagonal pass from Lantshene Phalane allowed Ndumiso Mabena to breeze past Bernard Parker before beating Daniel Akpeyi at his near post to put the visitors 1-0 up.
That goal sparked off an end-to-end battle and four further goals in the first half. Chiefs first drew level in the 21st minute, with Samir Nurkovic collecting Lebogang Manyama’s free-kick delivery before firing past Mondli Mpoto at his near post.
Just three minutes later Phunya Sele Sele reclaimed the lead, with Mabena going from scorer to provider as he played a great pass for Harris Tchilimbou to finish off on a superb counter-attack from the Free State team.
It was 2-2 just after the half-hour mark, with Nurkovic striking from close range again after good set-up play from Daniel Cardoso, but Celtic went ahead for the third time when Siphelele Luthuli struck on 35 minutes. Once more it was an incisive counter from the visitors, with Luthuli stroking home from Tebogo Potsane’s assist.
A breathless first 45 minutes ended with Celtic 3-2 ahead and Chiefs left scratching their heads as to how to combat the pace and power of their opponents. But the game’s momentum swung again in the opening minutes of the second stanza as a corner kick picked out Amakhosi striker Leonardo Castro, who beat Mpoto in the air to make it 3-3.
The Amakhosi now sniffed blood and began to dial up the pressure on Celtic’s defence. The Soweto side was rewarded just after the hour mark: Castro provided a fine cross from the left and Nurkovic arrived to thump the ball home from close range, complete his hat-trick and put Chiefs ahead for the first time in the game.
Ten minutes later Chiefs opened up a two-goal lead as yet another set-piece caused havoc in the Celtic defence, with Manyama’s delivery allowing Castro to complete a brace with a close-range header ahead of Mpoto.
That proved to be the last major highlight of the match, with the Amakhosi able to gear down and see out the remaining time in comfort, safe in the knowledge that the points were very much in the bag. The teams will return to Absa Premiership action for the final time in 2019 on 22 December: Chiefs will be away to Maritzburg United and Celtic at home to AmaZulu.
Kaizer Chiefs (2) 5 (Nurkovic 21’ 31’ 61’, Castro 47’ 71’)
Bloemfontein Celtic (3) 3 (Mabena 13’, Tchilimbou 24’, Luthuli 35’)
Chiefs: Akpeyi, Frosler, Cardoso, Mathoho, Sasman, Parker (Zuma 46’) Katsande, Baccus (Maluleka 55’), Manyama, Castro (Ngezana 80’), Nurkovic
Celtic: Mpoto, Ngobeni, Baloyi (Tani 56’), Mahashe, Pfumbidzai, Luthuli, Phalane, Mashikinya, Potsane (Letsoalo 69’), Tchilimbou (Motebang 69’), Mabena. Psl.co.za