United hold on to beat Celtic
Ricardo Katza (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Defending Absa Premiership champions SuperSport United are back on the slow road to recovery after they edged out Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 in their league clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.
SuperSport, who have struggled to find their form this season, dominated the first half and led 2-0 at the break.
It was a different story, though, in the second half when Celtic fought back and the visitors would have considered themselves a little unfortunate not to have shared the points.
There was a lot more urgency about the home side who attacked Celtic from the opening whistle and were rewarded when central defender Morgan Gould scored the opening goal on 13 minutes.
Gould did well to outjump the static Phunya Sele Sele defence and head home Bradley Carnell’s corner to give United a deserved 1-0 lead and turn the pressure they created into a goal.
United’s Angolan born striker, Jose Pereira, was foiled by some good goalkeeping from Patrick Tignyemb in the third minute when the Cameroonian did well to beat Pereira to a wicked Carnell free kick in the third minute.
Veteran former Bafana Bafana defender Carnell, who played most of his career in the German Bundesliga after he left Kaizer Chiefs, was moved to the left side of midfield from his usual left back position by coach Gavin Hunt.
This move worked as Carnell was more involved in the game and was not as exposed for pace.
Celtic’s first and only shot that tested SuperSport goalkeeper Wayne Brown came from Nathan Paulse in the 33rd minute, but the effort was well saved by Brown.
SuperSport scored a crucial second goal on the stroke of half-time when Kermit Erasmus raced onto a clever through ball from midfielder Letladi Madubanya and fired past Tignyemb to give the home side a 2-0 lead at the break.
The goal -- his first for SuperSport -- will have done wonders for the 20-year-old Erasmus' confidence. The youngster, who is expected to get some game time for Bafana against the United States in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town on Wednesday night, has struggled to settle in at United since rejoining the club from Dutch based outfit SBV Excelsior at the start of the season.
Celtic came out more determined in the second half and came close to reducing the deficit in the 47th minute when Bennet Chenene's curling shot sailed centimetres past the upright.
Celtic midfield ace Prince Olomu tired to take advantage of a mix up in the United defence but his shot in the 51st minute was deflected for a corner with Brown well beaten.
At the other end United striker Dipsy Selolwane had a chance to test Tignyemb in the 56th minute but instead of shooting the Botswana international “chickened out” and passed the ball, and the chance was lost.
Celtic’s pressure paid off in the 62nd minute when defender Prince Hlela raced for goal and reduced the deficit to 2-1 with a well taken striker that brought the Free state side right back into the game.
The visitors piled on the pressure searching for the equaliser and Gould came to the rescue in the 67th minute when he managed to boot striker Moses Spandeel’s goal bound shot for a corner.
United midfielder Jabu Maluleke should have sealed the game in the 70th minute when he was set up with a superb through ball by Carnell, but he wasted his shot by chipping the ball wide of the target when he had the goal at his mercy.
It was a tense finale to the game for Hunt as Celtic kept plugging away at his hard pressed defence.
Celtic substitute Dino Ndlovu tested Brown with a good looking shot in the 81st minute.
SuperSport, however, held on for three vital points after United skipper Ricardo Katza managed to scoop former Orlando Pirates striker Siphelele Mthembu’s shot off his goalline in injury time.