JOHANNESBURG, January 31 – Kaizer Chiefs’ hopes of challenging for league title honors took a knock after they lost 1-0 to Cape Town City at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday – despite being on top for large parts of the night.
Amakhosi certainly enjoyed more chances on goal, but an inspired Man-of-the-Match performance by Peter Leeuwenburgh in goal for the Cape team, and a goalkeeping blunder from Virgil Vries 11 minutes from time, proved the difference.
Victory would have put Amakhosi within four points of log leaders Bidvest Wits, but they remain seven points off the pace. Instead it was City, who like Chiefs, had started the night on 27 points, who closed the gap on the Students (34 points) to just four.
Chiefs started well and should have gone ahead on 18 minutes when the outstanding Happy Mashiane cut the ball back for Khama Billiat, who volleyed over with the goal at his mercy.
As an incisive Chiefs penetrated the Citizens’ defense at will, Leeuwenburgh had to be at his very best to keep out a stinging drive from Billiat and a deflected shot from close range from Bernard Parker.
City weren’t attacking with as much purpose as their hosts, but they did conjure up some very good chances and it took some sharp work from Vries to keep out efforts from Thabo Nodada and Gift Links midway through the opening half.
Chiefs, meanwhile, exhibited some eye-pleasing combination play as they continued to cut open the opposition defence, with Siphelele Ntshangase, Hendrick Ekstein and Mashiane pulling the strings in midfield and Billiat’s pace a constant threat.
Leeuwenburgh though was clearly on top of his game and the Dutchman again came to the Cape side’s rescue with another two outstanding saves before the interval to keep Billiat from scoring.
It took a while for the game to get going after the break, but when the action did arrive it was in the City box once more as Leeuwenburgh tipped Leonardo Castro’s powerful drive over the bar, and moments later, Ntshangase’s half volley deflected off Kwanda Mngonyama and against the post.
It was completely out of the blue when Benni McCarthy’s side took the lead in the 79th minute, the goal a real gift as Vries dropped what should have been a routine catch from a free kick out wide, allowing Edmilson Dove to react smartly and poke the ball over the line.
It had been a game that had had it all, and the drama continued into the closing minutes as Zukile Kewuti was red carded for a reckless tackle on Ntshangase, while Leeuwenburgh nearly undid his earlier good work by misjudging the bounce of a ball, before scrambling back to clear off his line.
There was more late action as Vries did well to stop Craig Martin from doubling the advantage before Ekstein wasted Chiefs’ final chance of the night by ballooning a shot over the bar from 15-yards out. (ANA)