Free State Stars did their survival prospects a whole world of good as they scored either side of the half-time break to secure what could turn out to be a crucial 4-1 victory over AmaZulu at Goble Park on Saturday afternoon.
Ea Lla Koto went into the Absa Premiership clash aiming to return to the winning trail following a last-gasp defeat to SuperSport United last time out, and they made their intentions known early on as Martin Kizza broke the deadlock after just four minutes of play.
Stars went close to adding a second in the 13th minute, but Mpho Khabane failed to keep his shot down as the ball flew over the bar.
Usuthu eventually lodged their first shot on goal in the 22nd minute, but it went to waste as Talent Chawapiwa failed to find the mark. Chawapiwa had a second bite at the cherry on the stroke of half-time but his goalbound shot was snapped up comfortably by Stars keeper Samkelo Mbambo.
Stars doubled their advantage in the 64th minute as Relebogile Mokhuoane fired a curling effort past Siyabonga Mbatha and into the bottom-right corner, only for Usuthu to pull one back five minutes later through a cracking shot by Chawapiwa.
However, Stars were quick to reassert their dominance on proceedings as Eleazar Rodgers got in on the act in the 71st minute, slotting home from the penalty spot after being fouled in the area by Sadat Ouro-Akoriko.
And, Stars rubbed further salt in the wounds of the visitors deep in injury time, with Harris Tchilimbou netting their fourth of the afternoon to add a further gloss to the scoreline.
M. Kizza 4′, R. Mokhuoane 65′, E. Rodgers (PG) 72′, H. Tchilimbou 90’+4