Kaizer Chiefs beat Free State Stars 3-1 in an Absa Premiership match at FNB Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Siphiwe Tshabalala netted the opener from a superb free-kick, while Bernard Parker extended the lead from the penalty spot. Willard Katsande added a third in the second half. Rooi Mahamutsa scored for the visitors.
Itumeleng Khune was back in goal after having missed the last four league fixtures, while the recently signed Venezuelan striker Gustavo Páez began the match on the bench.
The home side made their intentions clear from the beginning, pushing forward in numbers whenever having the opportunity.
Amakhosi played with two wingers, Joseph Molangoane (on the right) and Edmore Chirambadare (on the left), who are both able to take their opponents on.
Siphiwe Tshabalala looked lively in midfield, delivering telling passes at ease to his teammates. This was his first competitive match since being at the Glamour Boys for a decade, having signed his first contract with Chiefs on 10 January 2007.
‘Shabba’ was also the player who was at the start of the first real threatening dangerous movements towards the Free State Stars goal in 11th minute. A clever through-ball reached Chirambadare, whose fine cross from the left was just missed by the incoming Parker and Molangoane.
Seven minutes later, Tshabalala took a free-kick from about 20-yards from the goal. However, the pace, the curve and the direction towards the top right corner were too much for Stars goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni to handle, 1-0. It was a beauty.
Chiefs continued to keep up the pressure on the Ea Lla Kota goal.
Chirambadare made in the 29th minute an excellent run on the left and after having entered the box from the left, he was brought down by the Stars goalkeeper. Referee Kulasande Qongqo had no other option than to point to the penalty spot.
Parker took the penalty. The goalkeeper originally stopped the effort, but ‘Die Hond’ was alert enough to kick the ball in the rebound into the back of the net, 2-0.
It was a convincing display in the first half of the Amakhosi.
The home side took it a bit easier in the second half. However, even then, Free State Stars never really looked threatening.
There was a nice vibe in the stadium with the supporters clearly happy that the long festive and Africa Cup of Nations break was finally over.
There was loud applause when Páez came on, making his official debut wearing the Gold and Black jersey.
Chiefs kept up the pressure on the Ea Lla Koto goal. The ball was in the box in the 64th minute when Katsande got the ball. Accordingly, he swerved, as Ronaldinho would do in his best days, past two markers before easily putting the ball in the back of the net, 3-0.
Páez was given the ball by Tshabalala a few minutes later and looked set to create more havoc to the visitor’s defence, but he was tripped by a defender just outside the box. The Free Stars man was lucky to get away with only a yellow card.
Stars did manage to get a goal when Mahamutsa put the ball past Khune from a free-kick, 3-1.
Chiefs played well and it was a good way to re-start the league.
Key Moment in the match:
Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opener from a free-kick, which was some 20-yards out, was the fundamental moment as it allowed the team to settle into a rhythm early on.
Man of the match:
Tireless running by Shabba from thr start of the match to the end, he was the heartbeat of the team as he was instrumental in most of the moves that led to goal scoring opportunities for the team. His brilliant free-kick in the first half was well placed to beat Thela Ngobeni in the Free State Stars goal.
What this result means for the team:
With the much-deserved three points against Ea Lla Koto, Amakhosi move to third spot on the log standings with 27 points from 16 matches. The team is now a point behind both Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City, who collected maximum points in their match against Ajax Cape Town and Highlands Park respectively.
Amakhosi travel to KwaZulu-Natal this Saturday evening to play Roger de Sa’s Maritzburg United in an Absa Premiership match at the Harry Gwala stadium. The Team of Choice will hope to get one back over Chiefs following their 2-0 loss in the first round match-up between the two sides in the league. Steve Komphela’s men will hope to continue with their impressive run of form in the league and keep up with the league leaders who are a point above us.
Kaizer Chiefs (2) 3 (Tshabalala 18’, Parker, penalty 31’, Katsande 64’)
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Mahamutsa 73’)
Kaizer Chiefs: Khune; Mphahlele, Mathoho, Gordinho, Khumalo; Molangoane, Katsande, Maluleka (Baloyi 85’), Tshabalala, Chirambadare (Páez 59’); Parker (Twala 69’)
Free State Stars: Ngobeni; Okumu, Mahamutsa, Tlhone; Dlamini (Nono 58’), Makhaula, Mbhele, Vilikazi, Venter (Potsane 69’); Thethani, Anas