AMAZULU EDGE CELTIC IN SEVEN-GOAL THRILLER

AmaZulu FC recorded their third win in a row when they edged out Bloemfontein Celtic 4-3 in a DStv Premiership match at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

As a result, Usuthu remained seventh on the league table, but they are now a point behind sixth-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows, while Phunya Sele Sele also remained 12th on the standings.

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 and it fell kindly for his teammate Augustine Mulenga.

Mulenga made no mistake as he controlled the ball well before beating Celtic goalkeeper Sipho Chaine with a left-footed shot to make it 1-0 to AmaZulu – netting his third goal of the season in the process.

Phunya Sele Sele then pressed Usuthu and Veli Mothwa became a busy man in the hosts’ goal-posts as he produced two fantastic saves to deny Motebang Sera from close range as the visitors probed for the equalising goal.

However, the former Chippa United goalkeeper was 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 and score was 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 giants did not take the foot off the pedal after scoring as they continued to attack and they were awarded a penalty with Thato Lingwati adjudged to have fouled Mulenga in the box.

Tapelo Xoki then stepped up and beat Chaine with a powerful low effort from the spot-kick to make it 3-1 to AmaZulu in the 57th minute, but the hosts were forced to substitute Sithebe due to injury.

Celtic head coach John Maduka reacted by introducing Victor Letsoalo, Tebogo Potsane, Given Mashikinya and Menzi Masuku as the visitors looked to pull one back.

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.

The hosts were awarded a free-kick a few meters from the centre circle in stoppage time and Xoki scored with a thunderous curling effort from the set-piece to seal a 4-3 victory to AmaZulu on the day.

AmaZulu (1) 4 (Mulenga 12′, Sithebe 51′, Xoki 57′ 90’+4)
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.

Celtic: Chaine, Baloyi, Ngobeni, Lingwati, Chabalala (Mashikinya 65′), Rikhotso, Phalane (Ndwandwe 82′), Fikizolo (Potsane 65′), Sera (Letsoalo 64′), Luthuli (Masuku 64′), Tchilimbou.

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