KAIZER Chiefs shot-stopper Reyaad Pieterse put in one of the best goalkeeping performances this season to help his team to a 1-0 win over Bidvest Wits in an Absa Premiership match at the Bidvest Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Soweto giants are now back in the title race after their victory over second-placed Wits, who actually outplayed the Amakhosi for most of the 90 minutes. Chiefs moved up to third place in the league, but still trail leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by seven points.
Wits remain six points behind the Brazilians, who take on Orlando Pirates in another blockbuster league match on Wednesday night.
Pieterse made a plethora of saves to help Chiefs overcome the Clever Boys, but it was a second-half free kick by George Maluleka that was the difference between the two sides on the night.
The first five minutes of the match was subdued, with both teams playing the ball around in midfield. However, Wits started to take control of the game when they managed to get the ball at the feet of the outrageously talented Phakamani Mahlambi.
Mahlambi set up the first chance for Wits with a brilliant dribble down the right flank in the eighth minute. Paseka Seseki then crossed the ball to Daine Klate inside the area, but his header was way off the target.
Four minutes later Mahlambi set up Klate at the far post, but the winger’s header was palmed over by Pieterse. Wits’ Ben Motshwari then tried his luck from Klate’s corner, but his shot went wide.
Chiefs had their first chance of the match in the 17th minute, but Siphiwe Tshabalala’s free kick went over the bar.
Ten minutes later, Mahlambi produced another magical run to beat three Chiefs defenders. His finishing, though, left a lot to be desired, and he smashed his shot over the target.
There was some drama off the field as well when Wits assistant coach Paul Johnstone was sent to the dressing room by the referee in the 37th minute.
Wits thought they should had a penalty in the 56th minute after Mahlambi went down under a challenge of Kgoto Moleko. However, the referee waved their appeals away.
Maluleka then scored the opener a minute after the penalty appeal with a cracking free kick to give Chiefs an unlikely lead.
At the other end, Pieterse continued to defy the home side’s attackers with some stunning saves, as he stopped Sifiso Hlanti and Elias Pelembe with back-to-back saves in the 66th and 67th minutes respectively.
But he saved the best one for last, when he dived to stop Hlanti’s dipping free kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time. – ANA