Jantjie strike sees Stars edge Maritzburg

Free State Stars continued their rise up the Premiership table after surprising Maritzburg United with a 1-0 win at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.

Maritzburg had looked lively throughout the opening half, but the final touch appeared to elude them. Fortune Makaringe and Evans Rusike both came close but failed to find accuracy against goalkeeper Ali Sangare.

Maritzburg’s best opening arrived on the half-hour saw Andrea Fileccia beat the off-side trap, cut inside and watch his shot punched away by Ivory Coast’s Sangare.

At the other end, forward Sinethemba Jantjie dragged his shot into the side netting and stung the palms of Richard Ofori with a strong free-kick.

After the break, former United striker Mohammed Anas came closest for Ea Lla Koto when he spun his man just outside the D and thumped a low shot wide when he should have at least found the target.

The response was two excellent long-range efforts by Mxolisi Kunene and Deolin Mekoa that shaved the paintwork of the crossbar.

The goal finally arrived with 17 minutes to play as Jantjie made the most of Maritzburg easily sundering possession, drove into the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond Ofori.

Rusike had a golden chance to level, but powered Devon Saal’s corner over. Stars should have sealed the game moments later as Jantjie had the goal at his mercy after more poor defending, but could only strike the bottom of the right upright, almost the same spot that Tebogo Potsane hit with the rebound from a far tighter angle.

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