Goals by Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Siyabonga Ngezana extended Kaizer Chiefs’ winning run to three games.
Chiefs looked to make it three wins on the trot as they hosted AmaZulu for the 23rd time in all competitions on Saturday evening.
While it was a slow start to the 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season for Chiefs, coach Giovanni Solinas and his troops rediscovered their groove. Chiefs recently brushed aside both Cape Town City and Free State Stars in the space of a week.
However, just like Solinas did against Stars, he made a number of changes with the likes of George Maluleka ruled out with injury, but PSL top scorer Khama Billiat continued to lead the line alongside the experienced Bernard Parker.
Despite all of Parker’s experience, the veteran was left with his hands on his head as he was immediately in the thick of things squandering a golden opportunity as he latched onto a Godfrey Walusimbi square ball, only to send his effort wide of Moeneeb Josephs from close range.
Meanwhile, Usuthu were high on confidence as they came into the game on the back of a 3-3 draw with Mamelodi Sundowns but were happy to sit back during the opening stages of the first half and absorb the pressure.
The tactic saw AmaZulu under the cosh throughout the first half with the combination of the quartered of Dumisani Zuma, Billiat, Lebogang Manyama and Parker keeping the KwaZulu-Natal-based outfit on their toes.
But for all of Chiefs’ early dominance, the Soweto giants were unable to find the back of net in spite of them boasting an 18% scoring record in the first 15 minutes.
Nonetheless, Josephs waited nearly 30 minutes before he was finally forced into a save. The veteran keeper tipped over Manyama’s free kick resulting in a corner where defender Daniel Cardoso hit the woodwork with a fierce shot following a goal mouth scramble.
While it looked as if Chiefs would head into the break deadlocked, their dominance was finally rewarded just before the break as Mphahlele pounced onto a loose ball and sent his effort into the back of the net.
The goal was the full-back’s second of the season and certainly made Solinas’ half-time team talk a whole lot easier.
With both sides returning from the interval refreshed, AmaZulu seemed to be more organised and due to the deficit they were forced to come out of their shell.
This saw coach Cavin Johnson make the first move as he threw on former Chiefs striker Ovidy Karuru five minutes after the break.
The change did little to impact the game, and just before the hour mark, it was Ngezana who doubled the Glamour Boys’ advantage as he latched on to a superb free kick by Billiat and made no mistake with his header.
Once again this forced a response from Amazulu and Johnson looked to experience as he roped in the experience of Mabhuti Khenyeza and Emiliano Tade in hope of rescuing something from the game.
With AmaZulu throwing caution to the win this left them vulnerable at the back and Billiat had a chance to build on his three goals this season, but he fluffed his effort from point blank range.
At the other end, Tade and Khenyeza were linking up well upfront and the Argentinian tested Itumeleng Khune, who until that point went largely untested.
Nevertheless, try as AmaZulu did, they were unable to find a consolation goal as they failed to score for the third time this season.