AmaZulu climbed to sixth position in the DStv Premiership rankings after a solitary goal from Luvuyo Memela was enough to clinch a crucial victory over 10-man TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga on Tuesday.
This was only AmaZulu's second league win of the season, but they were always in command and looked more convincing as they generated the clearer chances to go ahead in the first half, with Augustine Mulenga and Siphelele Mthembu unable to capitalize on the opportunities.
With this loss, the Galaxy's sixth in as many games, they will remain stranded at the bottom of the standings, with only two points out of a possible 21.
This was Galaxy's first game under new German coach Sead Ramovic, and depending on how things are going, he'll have to adjust to the rigors of South African football quickly. With 20 minutes remaining, Ramovic's side had little hope of recovering from Memela's second-half goal when defender Pogiso Sanoka was sent out for a second bookable offence.
Galaxy were outrun and outmuscled on several occasions, and their skipper Mxolisi Malepe and Sinethemba Mngomezulu were unable to put Usuthu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa to the test.
The Galaxy's playmaker, Lindokuhle Mbatha, had a golden chance to put his team ahead midway through the first half when he was teed up by Macuphu inside the area following a stronger build-up from the visitors, but his shot was diverted right into Mothwa's hands.
Mthembu, on the other hand, had a massive miss after Siyethemba Sithebe crossed for him on the right and he couldn't finish a few centimetres from the goal line. Mthembu only had Galaxy goalkeeper Vasilije Kolak to beat, but his shot, while it went past the goalkeeper, was too tame for Sanoka not to clear.
Mthembu's miss enraged Usuthu coach Benni MCarthy so much that he didn't bring him back after the break, replacing him with Bongi Ntuli.
Ntuli had an immediate impact, combining brilliantly with overlapping left-back Tercious Malepe to set up Memela for Usuthu's well-deserved goal in the 56th minute.
McCarthy's team continued to press for additional goals, with their daring play and quickness proving difficult to deal with for the home team.
Usuthu will fly to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday to face TP Mazembe in the second leg of the Champions League second preliminary playoff at Lubumbashi on Saturday.
Usuthu drew 0-0 with Mazembe at home, and a win over the five-time Champions League winners will advance the Durban side to the group stages in their first-ever campaign in the league.
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