South Africa maintained their unbeaten record in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification Group G by securing a 3-1 win over Ethiopia at Bahir Dar Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Fasil Gebremichael (own-goal), Mothobi Mvala, and Evidence Makgopa inspired Bafana Bafana to victory as they avenged their 2-1 loss to Walia Ibex in the 2014 World Cup qualifier which was also played in Ethiopia in June 2013.
Terrence Mashego and Tshegofatso Mabasa were handed their Bafana debuts by coach Hugo Broos, who was looking to mastermind South Africa's second consecutive victory in Group G having guided his side to a 1-0 win over Ghana last month.
While the Ethiopian attack was led by former Bidvest Wits and University of Pretoria striker Getaneh Kebede and Aschalew Tamene, who scored Walia Ibex's winning goal against Zimbabwe last month, started in defence for coach Wubeto Abate's side.
Ethiopia had more of the possession and they also had better of the attempts with Ronwen Williams being the busier of the two goalkeepers as he produced an incredible save from Surafel Dagnachew's effort - tipping the ball over the crossbar.
The Bafana captain had to be alert after Siyanda Xulu had given the ball away in his own box and the ball fell kindly for Abubeker Nasser, but Williams pulled off a magnificent one-handed reflex save from close range, before denying the same player again a few minutes later.
Broos made what seemed like a tactical change in the 35th minute as he pulled out Mabasa, who looked uninjured and he introduced Victor Letsoalo, who has been in great scoring form for Royal AM having netted in four successive goals in the PSL.
The visitors were then gifted a goal on the stroke of half-time when goalkeeper Fasil Gebremichael made a mistake as he allowed a tame shot from Teboho Mokoena's free-kick to slip through his fingers to hand South Africa a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
Bafana continued to surge forward in search of another goal after the restart with Mokoena hitting the side-netting, before Rushine De Reuck's powerful header hit the woodwork with Grebremichael well-beaten, but the defender was ruled offside.
Walia Ibex were awarded a free-kick in a promising area after Surafel Dagnachew was fouled by Thabiso Kutumela and Kebede beat Williams with a stunning strike from the resultant set-piece to make it 1-1 in the 67th minute.
However, the goal did not deter Broos' charges as they pressed the hosts and they restore their lead in the 71st minute when Mvala scored from close range after a long throw created defensive confusion in the Ethiopian box and the 27-year-old midfielder was there to make it 2-1 to South Africa.
Despite his side leading with 11 minutes left, Broos introduced a striker - Evidence Makgopa - who vindicated the Belgian tactician's decision as he sealed South Africa's 3-1 win by looping the ball over Grebremichael after being set-up by Letsoalo in stoppage time.
The victory saw South Africa open a four-point gap at the top of the group standings, while Ethiopia remained third on the table and the two teams will meet again on Tuesday at FNB Stadium, pending the result in the other match in the group.