Johannesburg - Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques believed his team were the better side on the night, holding off an early raid to beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 3-2 at the Dobsonville Stadium on Friday.
"Overall, we deserved to win. It was a difficult game and credit must go to Mpumalanga Aces," Marques said after the match.
"They never gave up when we were 2-0 up. They kept going and at some moment we completely lost control of the game but we managed to recompose ourselves to win."
Edward Manqele, who joined the Birds on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns before the season, was the toast of the team, scoring a hat-trick before leaving the field with an injury.
"I told Manqele he doesn’t have to come on in his first match and try to score a goal, but he scored three. I am obviously delighted for him," Zeca said.
Aces coach Clive Barker, who was clearly disappointed by the result, blamed the loss on the chances his charges failed to convert as well as poor defensive work.
"It’s the second game we've let in easy goals. The defence has been leaking in both games," said Barker. "We hung in there and created a lot of chances to get back earlier. I did say the goal which would change the game, was the goal they scored and, unfortunately, it id. We pulled one back when it was too late."
Mabhuti Khenyeza missed an avalanche of chances which could easily have won the game for Aces but Barker praised his work rate and contribution on the night.
"We had some great chances. I think Mabhudi was very good. He shielded people off and allowed players to play around him.
"It's always strange to lose 3-2 though."