Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 Chippa United: Lebese returns with a bang

Amakhosi kept their title hopes alive with a win in Mbombela, and as a result, stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 12 matches

Kaizer Chiefs failed to turn their dominant first half display into goals, but George Lebese’s late second half strike secured a narrow 1-0 win for the Soweto giants at the Mbombela Stadium.

Lebese had been playing second fiddle to Edmore Chirambadare, and his presence at the Tshwane Derby clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United sparked rumours that he could leave Chiefs in the near future.

Steve Komphela brought him back into his matchday squad for the encounter in the Mpumalanga province, and the 28-year-old didn’t disappoint after coming on as a second half substitute.  

The win lifted Amakhosi to second on the log standings, level on points with leaders Cape Town City, who are on 45 points. City remain top of the log simply because they have outscored the Naturena-based outfit.

Amakhosi's victory also compounded more misery on Chippa United, who are now winless in their last nine games, and remain in danger of finding themselves in the relegation dogfight.  

Chiefs started brightly, and could have well been ahead at the end of the first half, but they failed to test Daniel Akpeyi as all their attempts went wide of goal.

Ramahlwe Mphahlele, lurking behind the Chippa defense, headed wide of Akpeyi’s goal in the 15th minute following a delightful cross from Siphiwe Tshabalala.

Joseph Molangoane needed to compose himself in the box 25 minutes into the game, but instead, the winger blasted his attempted shot against Gustavo Paez as the visitors were caught in sixes and sevens.

At this stage, Amakhosi looked threatening, while Chippa United struggled to deal with the danger from the middle of the park. They opted to put numbers behind the ball, but that hardly helped their cause as Chiefs took the game to them.

Chippa were dealt a major blow when Buyani Sali had to be stretchered off the pitch following a tackle from Lorenzo Goirdnho. The diminutive midfielder was rushed to hospital with a suspected fracture on his right leg.   

Chiefs were nearly made to rue the missed chances when Chippa United bombarded their penalty box on the stroke of half-time, but Sandile Zuke miskicked his effort and therefore allowed the home side to clear their lines.  

The last chance of the half fell to Paez just seconds before the interval, but the South American striker volleyed his effort wide of the mark, as Chiefs continued to look menacing in the final third.

Goalscoring chances were few and far between even after the introduction of Lebese and William Twala midway through the second half, but the duo lit up the game with their pace down the wings.

Chippa’s only real chance came soon after the hour-mark when Andile Mbenyane was afforded time and space to shoot from the edge of the box, but the attacker skied his effort with troubling Itumeleng Khune.

Chiefs started showing some sense of urgency in the opposition half, and their first attempt on goal came from Paez, who stormed into the box before firing straight at Akpeyi.

Signs were there, and Dan Malesela should have read the danger as Chiefs threw everything at their opponents in the closing stages of the game.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 85th minute following some brilliant footwork by Twala on the far side. The winger eliminated a few defenders and set up Lebese, who hammered a low shot past Akpeyi to earn his side all the three points.

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