AmaZulu claimed a stirring 2-1 victory over SuperSport United in a DStv Premiership clash played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.
Second-half strikes from substitutes Frank Mhango and Bonginkosi Ntuli saw Usuthu claim a first win of the season – and join fellow KwaZulu-Natal club Richards Bay at the top of the log on four points – after Matsatsantsa had gone ahead early in the second half through Thapelo Maseko.
United offered the first genuine threat on goal in the eighth minute, with Thabang Sibanyoni getting on the end of a fine cross from Thapelo Maseko down the left flank and poking a shot at goal, but he was denied by an excellent save from AmaZulu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa.
The hosts suffered an early injury blow when defender Thendo Mukumela succumbed to what appeared to be a hamstring strain, with Thembela Sikhakhane replacing him in the 18th minute.
SuperSport enjoyed another chance on 28 minutes when Bradley Grobler nodded down another Maseko cross and Sibanyoni directed an acrobatic effort at goal, but Mothwa was on hand to tip over for a corner kick.
The match soon took on something of an aggressive edge, with needless fouls and sniping between the players, but the disruption to the rhythm of play helped Usuthu gain a foothold in the game and begin to create some half chances, though they were unable to fully test United goalkeeper Boalefa Pule, leaving the game 0-0 at half time.
The deadlock was broken 11 minutes into the second half, with United’s Maskeo scoring direct from a free kick. The youngster’s left-footed drive took a deflection off the AmaZulu defensive wall which made it skid past a wrong-footed Mothwa on its way into the back of the net.
The hosts responded with a double change in attack, as Frank Mhango and Bonginkosi Ntuli replaced Sbusiso Magaqa and Sphesihle Maduna. Mhango quickly struck an equaliser for the hosts, steering Rian Hanamub’s low drive from the left beyond the reach of Pule for 1-1 in the 65th minute.
Augustine Kwem nearly put AmaZulu in the lead in the 73rd minute when he got on the end of a cross from Hanamub and headed on target, but Pule made a fine reaction save at close range to keep the score level.
However, the United ‘keeper could do nothing to prevent Ntuli from making it 2-1 in favour of the team in green on 78 minutes, as the substitute expertly nodded home Kwem’s perfectly-weighted cross from the right.
SuperSport pushed for a way back into the game in the remaining time, but AmaZulu were able to hold firm in defence and claim all three points on offer.
AmaZulu will return to DStv Premiership action this weekend, hosting Cape Town City on the evening of Saturday 13 August.
AmaZulu (0) 2 (Mhango 65’, Ntuli 78’)
SuperSport United (0) 1 (Maseko 56’)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Mukumela (Sikhakhane 18’), Gumede, Mobara, Hanamub, Maluleka (Makhaula 75’), Buchanan, Bwalya (Zulu 75’), Magaqa (Ntuli 61’), Maduna (Mhango 61’), Kwem
SuperSport: Pule, Nhlapo, Johannes, Hlatshwayo, Ditlhokwe, Mbatha (Donn 79’), Rasebotja, Margeman (Ngoma 65’), Maseko, Sibanyoni (Gabuza 65’), Grobler (Rayners 80’)