Absa Premiership

Bloemfontein Celtic beat Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns back in title race

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Sera Motebang (Gallo Images)
Sera Motebang (Gallo Images)

Kaizer Chiefs failed to extend their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership log to nine points over Mamelodi Sundowns as they suffered a 3-1 loss to Bloemfontein Celtic.

AS IT HAPPENED: Bloemfontein Celtic 3-1 Kaizer Chiefs

Sera Motebang scored a brace while Victor Letsoalo added a third for Celtic with Eric Mathoho scoring the Chiefs' lone goal of the night at Tuks Stadium.

Phunya Sele Sele had the better of Ernst Middendorp's charges in the opening twenty minutes as the log leaders struggled to find their rhythm.

Celtic defender Wandisile Letlabika was the first to threaten Amakhosi's goal with an audacious effort from halfway line to put goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi under pressure but the former Nigerian international took no liberties and knocked it over the crossbar.

Victor Letsoalo was next to test Akpeyi as he struck a shot that could have rattled the back of the net only for the Chiefs 'keeper to punch it away. 

The Glamour Boys finally began to find their feet as star forward Khama Billiat whipped in a cross towards Eric Mathoho who hit the target with a perfect headed effort, but it was saved. Samir Nurkovic was then flagged offside for his attempt to tap in from the rebound. 

Soon after, Billiat delivered a deep cross from a corner-kick as the instrumental Leonardo Castro saw his headed effort saved by Celtic goalkeeper Sipho Chaine.

Mathoho, a former Celtic player himself, would then redeem himself 10 minutes from the half-time whistle as his headed Chiefs into a 1-0 lead courtesy of Bernard Parker's cross.

Chiefs' lead would not last long as Celtic, who dominated much of the first 45-minutes, equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Sifiso Ngobeni was once again orchestrating the attacking movement for Celtic as he allowed Ndumiso Mabena to join the fray - Mabena wasted no time with striking the ball into the danger area with Sera Motebang levelling matters before the teams headed for the tunnel after the whistle.

Two minutes into the second stanza, Sera got his second goal of the night as Lantshane Phalane's shot deflected into Sera's path and the forward made no mistake to finishes sharply past Akpeyi.

The sense of desperation could immediately be felt as Castro saw his cross-cum-shot hit the crossbar and deflected away from danger area a minute after Celtic took a 2-1 lead.

Daniel Cardoso was next to save Chiefs from going two goals down as he blocked Letsoalo's effort with Akpeyi in no man's land.

Amakhosi continued to apply the pressure as Billiat saw his strike blocked on the goalline while Willard Katsande hit his rebound effort well wide off the target.

On the 74th minute, Celtic produced a phenomenal display of football as the Free State side to a 3-1 lead. 

Letsoalo weaved his way through Chiefs' defence leaving Mathoho chasing his shadow and the forward perfectly placed the ball in the bottom corner.

The third goal depleted Chiefs for the remaining 15 minutes as Celtic held onto finish the match and record an important victory in their chase for a top eight finish.

The defeat for Chiefs (52 points) will allow Masandawana (46) to reduce Amakhosi's log lead to just three points as Pitso Mosimane's charges next face a plucky Maritzburg United on Friday evening.

Chiefs will next face Stellenbosch FC (Sunday, 23 August) before  meeting Sundowns on Thursday, 27 August as the chase for the Absa Premiership title race heats up.

- Compiled by Tashreeq Vardien

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