The hosts looked shaky under the baking sun at Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo and the visitors made the most of their opportunities for a well-earned victory.
Defensively, Baroka were sound throughout, holding their structures well and forcing easy turnovers in the midfield thanks to often careless ball retention by Leopards.
After an opening quarter with scant clear chances, the game finally came to light in the 31st minute thanks to a goalkeeping error.
A foul deep in Leopards territory gave Baroka a free kick near the corner flag. The curling effort tracked towards the near post and Leopards stopper Jonas Mendes made a complete hash of the save. Mendes tried to use his knees top clear the ball and it went between his legs, off the post and Phelelani Shozi was on hand to toe the ball into the back of the net from close range.
In the closing stages of the opening half, Leopards’ Mwape Musonda had half a chance on the break. But a rush of blood to the head saw him pull the trigger too early when he could have taken another touch and his right-footed effort sailed across the face of goal, leaving Elvis Chipezeze untroubled.
In the second stanza, that man Musonda got the crowd hopping with two shots at goal in quick succession. The first was spectacular effort after a wayward clearance set up his bicycle-kick attempt, which went over the crossbar. Just seconds later, the striker was in space on the edge of the box and let fly a right-foot rocket which Chipezeze dealt with. But the visitors were far more slick on attack.
In the 68th minute, a quick counter made it three versus three at with retreating Leopards defender and Tshediso Patjie cut back on his run, took a peek goalward and curled in a superb effort around Mendes into the top right hand corner for what has to be said is a contender for the goal of the season.
While the home side enjoyed the better of the possession in the final quarter, it was their finishing that kept letting them down. One cross went across the face of goal with no attackers near, while another effort from Musonda was wayward.
Baroka nearly made it three goals in the dying embers of the match when Richard Mbulu was one on one with a defender after forcing a mistake. Mbulu jinked away from the defender and hit a powerful left footed shot that forced a good save out of Mendes.
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