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Football | Absa Premiership

Hendrick Ekstein © Backpage Pix

Chiefs put major dent in Wits’ title challenge



Kaizer Chiefs put a major dent in Bidvest Wits’ Absa Premiership title challenge with a 2-0 win at the Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday night.

Second-half goals from Leonardo Castro and Hendrick Ekstein saw the Amakhosi move up to fifth place, while the Clever Boys remain at the head of the standings but missed out on the chance to restore a five-point lead over second-placed Orlando Pirates.

After a cagey opening 20 minutes, it was Chiefs who seemed to find their rhythm and confidence, with a fine build-up move just before the midway point of the first half ending with Khama Billiat firing a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.

Wits took their time to come into the game, as they struggled to feed forwards Mxolisis Machupu and Terrence Dzvukamanja, who were outnumbered by the Amakhosi’s three central defenders of Mario Booysen, Daniel Cardoso and the excellent Teenage Hadebe.

The Clever Boys came to life in the final minutes of the half, with Deon Hotto notably forcing Virgil Vries into a good save with a long-range effort in the 44th minute, but the interval arrived with the teams still locked at 0-0.

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Thirteen minutes into the second half Chiefs claimed the lead, as another fine passing move ended with Siphosakhe Ntiyantiya firing in a low cross from the left flank – striker Leonardo Castro provided a deft finish which went into via the body of goalkeeper Darren Keet.

The visitors should have doubled their advantage on the hour mark, with Lebogang Manyama heading wide at the far post after a fine cross to pick him out from Hendrick Ekstein, before Castro sent a cross-shot flashing through the six-yard box a short while later.

The second goal for the Amakhosi finally arrived in the 78th minute, and it was certainly worth the wait: Castro and substitute Bernard Parker combined beautifully to set up Ekstein, who calmly side-footed the ball home from close range for a brilliant team effort.

Ekstein’s strike proved to be the key moment which secured all three points for Chiefs and ended a strong run of form for Wits, who had gone five games unbeaten and claimed 13 points from a possible 15 prior to this match.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts in injury time when referee Victor Gomes sent off defender Robyn Johannes for back-chat.

Chiefs will be in CAF Confederation Cup action this weekend when they face Zambia’s Zesco United, while Wits will wait until January 20 for their next match, a league clash away to Polokwane City.

Bidvest Wits 0

Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Castro 58’, Ekstein 78’)

Wits: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Johannes, Hlanti, Pelembe, Monare, Alexander, Hotto (Motupa 74’), Dzvukamanja (Mere 64’), Machupu (Majoro 46’)

Chiefs: Vries, Moleko, Cardoso, Hadebe, Booysen, Ntiyantiya, Maluleka (Gordinho 75’), Ekstein, Billiat (Parker 73’), Manyama, Castro



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