Kaizer Chiefs struck in stoppage time to hand Maritzburg United a 3-2 defeat in their Absa Premiership clash at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
The home side were off to the perfect start when Camaldine Abraw was tripped in the penalty area by Maritzburg goalkeeper Glenn Verbauwhede while trying to go around him one-on-one in the fourth minute.
Willard Katsande stepped up and got enough power behind the penalty to beat Verbauwhede despite him getting a hand on it.
The Team of Choice created a few opportunities in a slow-tempo and rather dull first half but could not make the most of them, and Abraw added a second goal for Chiefs in the 37th minute with a solid header into the far corner from George Lebese’s left-wing cross.
However, just before half-time Maritzburg gave themselves some hope of a comeback with a headed goal from Tamsanqa Teyise from Deolin Mekoa’s inswinging free-kick from the right.
Chiefs came out flying in the second half as substitute William Twala – who had come on just before half-time for the injured Lebese – cut inside from the left and tested Verbauwhede from the edge of the area.
But then all of a sudden it was 2-2 as Rusike capitalised on an awful pass from Siyanda Xulu at the back, beat Lorenzo Gordinho for pace and slotted past Pierterse.
Maritzburg had the wind in their sails now and almost scored again on the counter-attack as Chiefs defended desperately, with Steve Komphela bringing on Hendrick Ekstein for George Maluleka.
Bernard Parker also came off the bench for the injured Siyanda Xulu but made little impact as the visitors continued to look more likely to score. Pieterse was to thank for keeping the scores level as he made a double save to deny Philani Zulu from range and then Lentjies on the rebound.
Maritzburg counter-attacked intelligently as second half drew to a close and looked dangerous with Rusike’s pace and Lentjies’ creativity, while Chiefs dominated possession but mostly passed around in front of the defenders.
But there was late drama as Amakhosi got the goal they needed, Gordinho popping up when it mattered to head in Tshabalala’s outswinging corner-kick in the first minute of stoppage time to hand Chiefs all three points.
The result keeps Chiefs within reach of the top three and does nothing to help Ernst Middendorp’s side, who have eight points from 17 matches and are five points behind the relegation play-off spot.