Free State Stars were unfortunate to be defeated 3-0 by Bidvest Wits at the Bidvest Stadium on the opening day of the 2018/19 Premier League season.
Thulani Hlatshwayo opened the soring on 10 minutes before a 32nd minute strike from Mxolisi Macuphu. Deon Hotto then added a third with 75 minutes on the clock.
After a steady start from both sides, it was Cole Alexander with the first half chance of the game with a shot from range that was well off target.
Stars soon settled into a passing rhythm but were undone by a superb shot from Hlatshwayo that rifled into the back of the net.
Luc Eymael’s charges responded with a well-worked moved to Goodman Dlamini on 13 minutes but he was just unable to direct his effort on goal, with his shot hitting a post.
The away side were looking to get wide and put crosses in, with Sinethemba Jantjie working hard to provide service to Eleazar Rodgers, who was causing problems for the Wits backline.
However, it was the home team who would extend their lead, with Macuphu slotting home a pass from Hotto just after the half an hour mark.
Stars upped the tempo in search of a response and worked the ball well, with Rodgers wide at the end of the first half after creating space for a shot.
Macuphu was eager for a second but missed minutes after the interval and despite attacking for a large chunk of the second stanza, Stars were unable to break down a steely Wits defence.
Harris Tchilimbou and Sifiso Mbhele were both delivering good balls into the box while Makhehlene Makhaula drove a 51st minute shot wide of the mark.
Jantjie forced Darren Keet into a superb save on 58 minutes from his left-footed effort before Tchilimbou’s header on 62 minutes was also well saved by the Wits stopper.
Stars kept peppeing the Clever Boys, with Makhaula again just wide, before a third goal from Wits, from Hotto with 15 minutes of the match remaining, to kill off any hopes of a comeback.
Free State Stars starting eleven: Badra Ali Sangare, Sifiso Mbhele, Bangali Keita, Rooi Mahamutsa, Thabang Klaas, Sinethemba Jantjie, Makhehlene Makhaula, Paulus Masehe, Goodman Dlamini, Harris Tchilimbou, Eleazar Rodgers
Free State Stars Subs: Maboke Matlakala, Yussuf Jappie, Mpho Maruping, Tshepho Tema, Nyiko Mobbie, Relebogile Mokhuoane, Samkelo Cecil Mbambo
Bidvest Wits starting eleven: Darren Keet, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Robyn Johannes, Sfiso Hlanti, Cole Alexander, Thabang Monare, Deon Hotto, Gift Motupa, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Mxolisi Macuphu
Bidvest Wits Subs: Elias Pelembe, Denis-Danso Weidlich, Simon Murray, Brighton Mhlongo, Vuyo Mere, Gabadinho Mhango, Bantu Mzwakali