Steve Komphela’s Bloemfontein Celtic side denied Kaizer Chiefs their first league win of the season after coming from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Soweto giants were looking set to earn a first Premiership win in five attempts under new coach Giovanni Solinas after goals from Khama Billiat and Khotso Malope had put them in the driving seat, only for former Orlando Pirates duo Menzi Masuku and Ndumiso Mabena to turn the three points into one.
The match got off to a lively start and it was Celtic who had the first clear opening of the night when Chiefs failed to clear a sixth minute free kick and the ball fell to Tshegofatso Mabaso right in front of goal, but he blazed his shot over the bar.
Amakhosi then came close eight minutes later when Billiat’s free kick brushed the outside of the post, before Mabaso was denied at the other end after a sharp save from home keeper Bruce Bvuma.
More opportunities followed for the Glamour Boys as Siphelele Ntshangase’s 20-yard effort drew an unconventional save from Patrick Tingyemb, before Billiat’s curler flew narrowly over the crossbar and then Dumisani Zuma thumped a 25-yard effort against the woodwork.
Overall it was Chiefs who had enjoyed the better of the play and they were to take a deserved lead in the 37th minute when a champagne pass by the conductor in midfield, Ntshangase, released Billiat, who did well to cut in from the left and slot the ball past Tingyemb.
There was little to separate the sides after the break with no clear cut chances until the 64th minute, when Leonardo Castro’s clever ball released Malope through on goal, the lead doubled with a clipped finish over the on-rushing Tingyemb.
Any hopes of a comfortable cruise to the finish line for Amakhosi were diminished when Masuku combined brilliantly with Mabena before calmly putting the ball through Bvuma’s legs and into the net in the 76th minute.
And it got even worse for the home fans just three minutes later when some indecisive defending allowed Mabena to get in a snap volley from the edge of the box, which he superbly buried in the far corner to level up the game.
Chiefs pressed hard for a winner in the final 15 minutes. But apart from a couple of half chances, it wouldn’t fall for them in front of goal as Solinas’ testing start to his Amakhosi tenure continues ahead of Saturday’s second leg MTN8 semifinal clash with SuperSport United.
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