Cape Town - Maritzburg United ended Free State Stars’ winning run in the Absa Premiership by claiming a 3-0 victory at Goble Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Team of Choice scored through Andrea Fileccia, Evans Rusike and Bandile Shandu in the second half to claim a third win from their last four matches, while Ea Lla Koto’s hot streak has been halted at four games.
Maritzburg suffered an early blow when captain and defender Bevan Fransman suffered a head injury in an aerial challenge and was substituted in the seventh minute by youngster Rushine de Reuck.
Chances were few and far between, mostly due to the excellent defending on show. One such example came to the fore on the half hour mark when Maritzburg put Evans Rusike in on goal, but the Zimbabwean was stymied by a superb last-ditch tackle from Nyiko Mobbie.
United also had a couple of threatening moments late in the half from well-delivered Deolin Mekoa set pieces, though goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare was able to awkwardly palm away in both instances.
The second half started with a bang, as within a minute of the first whistle Maritzburg sent striker Andrea Fileccia free down the left of the penalty area and the Belgian coolly finished with a low shot to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Stars almost came up with an equaliser in the 54th minute: Harris Tchilimbou’s corner kick picked out Bengali Keita, but the big defender’s goal-bound header was superbly saved by Richard Ofori.
Yet just five minutes later the Team of Choice doubled their advantage, with Rusike controlling a ball forward from Siphesihle Ndlovu before turning his defender and firing home low a shot from a couple of metres outside the penalty area.
Bandile Shandu nearly put his side three goals up with just 10 minutes to play when he controlled a neat ball in the middle of the box, but his stabbed shot at goal was brilliantly turned away by Sangare.
However, Shandu was more ruthless when presented with another chance in the 87th minute, running onto Ndlovu’s through ball before firing the ball into the roof of the net to give the ‘keeper no chance.
The result takes United to fourth place on the table with 27 points from 18 matches, while Stars will drop to third as they remain on 28 points from the same number of outings.