Katlego Mphela opened his account for Kaizer Chiefs but it was not enough as Free State Stars drew level and held the Glamour Boys to a 1-1 draw in Polokwane
Mphela netted a late winner as he nodded home his first goal for the Soweto outfit at a crucial time, but Stars hit back straight away through Thabo Moloi, dealing a crushing blow to Stuart Baxter and his men, who now look certain to have relinquished their league title.
Log-leading Mamelodi Sundowns now have a simple task at hand, win one of their two remaining ties and the PSL title is theirs, which will do little for a dejected Chiefs side now with only the Nedbank Cup to contest.
Chiefs started the brighter of the sides and went close inside five minutes, as Tshabalala played in both George Lebese and Bernard Parker from out wide, but an overeager run evaded the pair, but pointed to a good start for the Soweto giants.
A host of corners followed for the Glamour Boys, who failed to punish Stars from the set-piece, before Stars hit on the counter and went close in the 13th, with Moeketsi Sekola delivering an inviting ball into the area, which took a deflection on the way out for a corner following some stunning interplay.
Chiefs were looking more and more threatening as Parker’s header was parried out for a corner by Ayanda Mtshali, who did well to keep out the Bafana Bafana attacker’s effort, after some good work from Tshabalala on the flank.
Amakhosi were relentless and soon put Kingston Nkhatha through on goal, after some more good work from Tshabalala, but Nkhatha’s header went wide.
Ea Lla Koto were struggling to unlock the Chiefs defence late in the opening half and were forced to shoot from range, but none of their efforts went through on target.
Mtshali would make one last intervention before the interval, punching a delivery into the box away from danger, with Nkhatha looking to put himself in a dangerous position to connect to the cross.
Level at the break, Chiefs’ expectant supporters were growing more and more restless as the score remained unchanged, with all present knowing the importance of grabbing the vital goal that would keep Chiefs in the hunt for PSL honours this season.
Chiefs kept up the pressure as they had done from the opening minute, as Masilela delivered a beautiful cross into the box for Parker's header, but the effort shaved the crossbar and went over, with Mtshali well beaten in goal.
Stars struggled to make any sort of impression and soon Amakhosi went ahead through Mphela, who punished the home side with a header which rebounded off the crossbar to hand the former Mamelodi Sundowns striker his first goal in Chiefs colours, following a goalmouth struggle, which allowed Mphela to nudge home the advantage.
When Stars eventually mustered a shot at goal, Richard Henyekane was flagged for offside after finding himelf in space and pulling away from his markers, forcing Itumeleng Khune into his first real save of the game, only to be brought back for offside.
But Chiefs' celebrations were short-lived as Moloi dashed the hopes of the defending champions, netting after great work out wide and cooly slotting home the equaliser with seven minutes left on the clock.
With little time to respond, Baxter's troops looked out of sorts and failed to come up with any more meaningful chances as the title began to slip further and further away.