07.12.2014 19:52 h

Chiefs sink Pirates to keep large lead

South African Premiership pacesetters Kaizer Chiefs defeated greatest rivals Orlando Pirates 2-0 to maintain a 13-point lead Sunday ahead of four consecutive home fixtures.

Siphiwe Tshabalala and Siphelele Mthembu scored second-half goals for Chiefs in the Soweto derby at a near-full 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto to sink the Buccaneers.

Chiefs, champions and runners-up in the past two seasons, have won 11 matches and drawn three for 36 points after 13 rounds of the most-widely broadcast African football league.

A tight defence has been pivotal to the success of the Amakhosi (Chiefs) with stand-in goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo living up to his first name by conceding just five goals in 1260 minutes.

With first-choice shot-stopper and captain Itumeleng Khune sidelined for months by injury, Khuzwayo has made the most of his promotion.

Consistent top-class performances for the most successful and popular club in South Africa have earned him a national squad place as back-up to Belgium-based Darren Keet.

Khuzwayo was seldom troubled by former African champions Pirates in a match that improved after a first half almost devoid of excitement.

Tshabalala, scorer of the opening goal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, side-footed a cross past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo on 51 minutes to end the stalemate.

And Mthembu struck three minutes into stoppage time, finishing a superb cross from fellow substitute George Lebese with a low shot into the corner.

Defeat left 2013 CAF Champions League runners-up Pirates ninth, 18 points behind Chiefs, and almost certainly out of the title race even with 17 rounds to go.

England-born Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter saw his side surrender a large lead to finish second behind Mamelodi Sundowns last season and is understandably cautious.

"We have won nothing yet," he told reporters. "There is a long way to go before we can consider celebrating.

"Winning the derby was great, but there are four tough fixtures ahead before the mid-season break and we must prepare thoroughly for them."

Chiefs host top-half Chippa United and Mpumalanga Black Aces and bottom-half Platinum Stars and Free State Stars during the next two weeks.

Sundowns were comfortable 2-0 home winners over Free State in Pretoria and rose to second, ahead of Wits University and Ajax Cape Town on goal difference.

Zimbabweans scored both goals with Cuthbert Malajila nodding the title-holders into a 13th-minute lead and Khama Billiat scoring via a close-range shot midway through the second half.

Wits snatched a 1-0 win at Bloemfontein Celtic courtesy of a Ben Motshwari goal six minutes from time while Ajax were held 0-0 at home by SuperSport United.

It was not a great weekend for Premiership spectators and viewers with eight matches producing just 14 goals -- an average of 1.75 per game.