Chiefs celebrate birthday with a key win
Kaizer Chiefs marked their milestone 50th birthday with a key 3-0 win over Highlands Park at FNB Stadium on Wednesday evening to stretch their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership.
Goals from Eric Mathoho and Leonardo Castro (two) saw the Amakhosi claim the victory and open up a six-point lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, underlining their status as title favourites early in the New Year.
Highlands created the first clear chance of the game when a loose ball from the right flank fell for Tendai Ndoro, who worked space for a shot but only succeeded in firing the ball straight at Daniel Akpeyi.
Chiefs suffered an early injury blow when forward Lazarous Kambole, who had earlier been involved in a head collision, was unable to continue and forced the 22nd minute introduction of Dumisani Zuma.
The Amakhosi broke the deadlock in the 27th minute with a brilliant goal from defender Eric Mathoho. The centre-back met a free kick delivery from Lebogang Manyama with a header which rattled the underside of the crossbar – Mathoho then bicycle-kicked the rebound and scored via the inside of the post and despite a messy attempt to save from goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
Yet Heugh made a crucial save in the 41st minute, making a great one-handed block to deny Leonardo Castro when the Chiefs striker had been gifted a one-on-one chance by the error-prone Abdi Banda. The halftime break saw the Soweto giants enjoying a 1-0 lead.
Highlands made a tactical change at halftime, replacing forward Ndoro with versatile defensive player Enocent Mkhabela in an effort to gain more control in midfield. Yet Chiefs doubled their lead 12 minutes after the restart, with Castro turning home a low cross from Kearyn Baccus to take a stranglehold on the game.
And the points were very much in the bag in the 69th minute when Castro netted his second, getting ahead of Heugh to head home George Maluleka’s corner kick delivery and make it 3-0.
The Amakhosi saw out the remainder of the game in comfort, picking up three points to celebrate their anniversary in exemplary stile.
The teams will return to Premiership action this coming weekend, with Highlands at home to Stellenbosch on Saturday and Chiefs hosting Cape Town City on Sunday.
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 3 (Mathoho 27’, Castro 57’ 69’)
Highlands Park 0