Cape Town - Vasco da Gama had their hopes of three points dashed when Free State Stars scored an injury time equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Philippi Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Dirang Moloi scored for the home side, with Noah Chivuta equalising in the dying moments.
Playing into a strong gusting wind, Stars found it hard to get out of their own half in the first stanza.
Vasco created a good chance after five minutes, when Keenin Lesch broke down the right and played in an inviting ball for Sibusiso Zuma, but the veteran was just not able to get on the end of it.
Vasco continued to push forward, and in the 15th minute Zuma was close to scoring what would have been a sensational goal when a left-footed volley from an extremely acute angle hit the far upright.
Stars’ chances were restricted to long-range efforts, which failed to trouble Postnett Omony, the wind taking the sting off the shots.
Ten minutes before the break Madoda Motha sprinted clear down the right, but he could not muster much power and Omony saved easily, although soon afterwards he was more severely tested by a stinging drive from Matome Madimabe. But just when it appeared as if Ea Lla Koto were starting to look good for a goal, the Cape side scored, in the 43rd minute.
Zuma was the provider, taking the ball into the box and then pulling it across from the left, locating Dirang Moloi to slot home with relative ease.
After the break, Vasco showed that the wind wasn’t an issue as they showed good industry in the opening moments, although no clear cut chances popped up.
At the other end, Omony had to react well to keep out Petrus Mahlatsi’s snap shot, as well as a dangerous curling effort from Mpho Makola.
Jonathan Armogam could however have doubled Vasco’s lead in the 66th minute, but his toe poke from close range was saved by Kennedy Mweene.
Bradley August then also missed the chance to add a second when he sent his first time volley wide, following Moloi’s hanging cross.
Vasco ended the game with 10 men, following the 82nd minute dismissal of Moloi after a second yellow.
The home side had to endure some late pressure as the red shirts poured forward, but some committed defending seemed to have been enough to win the game.
But with the match in optional time, Vasco struggle to clear their lines and the ball fell to Noah Chivuta, who rifled home a low drive.