Bloem Celtic hold off Ajax
Eric Mathoho (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Bloemfontein Celtic consolidated their position in the top half of the Premiership table with a thrilling 4-2 win over Ajax Cape Town at the Free State Stadium on Wednesday night.
Celtic's 11th championship victory now has them on 41 points after 28 games played.
The often-mercurial hosts had raced to a 2-1 lead at half-time with Eric Mathoho pile-driving the opener inside the box in the 17th minute.
Mathoho, though, turned villain in the 32nd minute, scoring an own goal allowing Ajax to level matters.
In the visitors' only threatening moment of the half, Nhlanhla Vilakazi's cross was pelted away by Celtic goalkeeper Thabang Stemmer with the ball rebounding off Mathoho's chest to the net.
Phunya Sele Sele reclaimed their superiority three minutes later as striker Lennox Bacela converted from the penalty spot after Letladi Modubanyana was hacked down in the box.
This was Bacela's eighth league goal of the campaign.
The second half began with the same high tempo as a resurgent Ajax drew level again through captain Brent Carelse in the 56th minute.
The veteran midfielder fed off a Tafadwza Rusike cross on the left for the game-changing goal.
With both sides opening up as they searched for the winner, Ruzaigh Gamaldien found the woodwork.
Celtic substitute Clifford Mulenga then rattled in a stunning free-kick from outside the box after 81 minutes.
And another replacement, Phenyo Mongala, sealed matters for the dominant home team two minutes later, slotting past hapless Sander Westerveld in the Ajax goal.
This ended any chances of a late Urban Warriors revival.
Their best chance in the second stanza came from a Thulani Hlatshwayo headed effort that went wide midway through.
Ajax, with 37 points, have now been winless in their last five games with three draws and two losses.
While they showed good touches in patches, the Cape outfit lacked cohesiveness, which has been their problem in the final half of the campaign.
They remain in ninth place and with three games to make an effort for a top eight finish.