Stars dimmed by Celtic in Free State derby

Stars dimmed by Celtic in Free State derby
Victor Letsoalo of Bloemfontein Celtic celebrating during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 game between Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on 10 December 2017 © Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix

by Bertin Basson

Sunday Dec 10, 2017. 17:27

Free State Stars were handed a 3-0 thumping by rivals Bloemfontein Celtic in their Absa Premiership derby at Dr Molemela Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The victory – which was secured by a brace from Victor Letsoalo and a fine strike by Lucky Baloyi – takes Phunya Sele Sele up to fourth place on the table, while Ea Lla Koto drop down to 10th spot.

The teams cancelled each other out for the first quarter of the match, though Celtic generally enjoyed more of the ball and time in the attacking third of the field, with the likes of Deon Hotto, Ndumiso Mabena and Victor Letsoalo a constant menace to the visitors’ defence.

And that Celtic trio combined beautifully on the half hour mark to break the deadlock: Hotto played a precise pass to Letsoala, who exchanged a quick one-two with Mabena before beating goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare from close range to make it 1-0 to the hosts.

And Letsoala wasn’t far away from doubling Phunya Sele Sele’s advantage a few minutes before the half-time break, as a swift attack ended with him sending a low shot just wide of the target.

Stars made a tactical change at the start of the second half by sending on the wily Nhlanhla Vilakazi in place of Katlego Mokhuoane, and they missed a great chance to level the game within the first few minutes when Mohammed Anas headed over from a corner kick.

Celtic doubled their lead three minutes before the hour mark, with Lucky Baloyi providing a beautiful finish with the outside of his right foot from the ‘D’ of the penalty area. It was the midfielder’s first goal in over three years.

In the 64th minute Letsoalo netted his second to put Phunya Sele Sele 3-0 up, with the striker first latching onto a great defence-splitting pass before expertly shooting beyond the goalkeeper.

Substitutes Kabelo Mahlasela and Given Mashikinya almost made it 4-0 late on, but they were denied by a sharp save from Stars’ goalkeeper. That proved to be the last highlight of a wonderful performance from the team in green and white.

Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 3 (Letsoalo 30’ 64’, Baloyi 57’)

Free State Stars 0

Celtic: Tignyemb, Pfumbidzai, Rikhotso, Lubisi, Ndengane, Motshegwa (Mashikinya 72’), Baloyi, Phalane, Hotto, Mabena (Mabaso 84’), Letsoalo (Mahlasela 78’)

Stars: Sangare, Mashego, Mobbie, Keita, Phungwayo, Masehe, Mokhuoane (Vilakazi 46’), Jantjie, Dlamini (Venter 70’), Maphakisa (Potsane 58’), Anas

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