Black Leopards defeated Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in a DStv Premiership clash at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, with the result keeping alive their hopes of avoiding direct relegation from the top-flight league.
Lidoda Duvha, who secured the win thanks to a brace from Tiklas Thutlwa, remain bottom of the log but are now just three points behind Chippa United (placed in the relegation playoff zone) with two rounds of the 2020-21 season left to play.
As for the Amakhosi, they could still mathematically be drawn into the relegation playoff mix (they are five points clear of Chippa) but the result is more realistically a major blow to their top-eight hopes: the Soweto giants are three points off the top half and their fate in this regard will now depend on the likes of Baroka FC, TS Galaxy and Bloemfontein Celtic dropping points.
Leopards had a promising start and created the first genuine chance of the game, with Thutlwa dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box in the ninth minute.
Yet less than 60 seconds later Chiefs claimed the lead. Lazarous Kambole teed up Happy Mashiane for what looked a tap-in at the far post, but he was denied by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Jonas Mendes, only for the loose ball to be easily tucked away by Leonardo Castro.
The hosts were stung by the goal but gradually began to build attacking pressure as the half progressed, with Sanele Mathenjwa notably heading over from a great cross by left-back Tsheamo Mashoene on 39 minutes.
Mashoene did more great work on the overlap in the 44th minute, running onto Tumelo Khutlang’s pass before playing a perfect low cross which was turned home at the far post by Thutlwa to send the teams into the break locked at 1-1.
Chiefs almost reclaimed the advantage 11 minutes into the second half, with Nkosingiphile Ngcobo’s free kick deflecting off Edwin Gyimah and striking the post.
Yet it was Leopards who landed the next blow, taking the lead for the first time in the 64th minute. Substitute Tebogo Makobela played a fine one-two with Mathenjwa to get in behind the defence before crossing from the by-line to find Thutlwa, who headed home to make it 2-1 to the Limpopo side.
Chiefs looked for a response in what remained of the game, but their stuttering attack never looked like threatening the hosts, until an injury-time turn and shot from Sabelo Radebe which was superbly saved by Mendes to see Lidoda Duvha claim three vital points.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next Wednesday, 2 June, with Leopards away to Cape Town City and Chiefs at home to Golden Arrows.
Black Leopards (1) 2 (Thutlwa 44’ 64’)
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Castro 10’)
LEOPARDS: Mendes, Sampson (Makobela 57’), Gyimah, Masia, Mashoene (Khumalo 75’), Mthethwa (T. Ndlovu 75’), Maluleke (Mokoena 75’), Thutlwa (Douhadji 83’), Mathenjwa, Khutlang, Karuru
CHIEFS: Bvuma, Ngezana, Mathoho, Cardoso, Zulu, Matsheke (Akumu 72’), Parker, Ngcobo, Mashiane (Frosler 60’), Kambole (Radebe 71’), Castro
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