Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Bloemfontein — Free State Stars belied their lowly status in the Premiership standings with a narrow 3-2 win over provincial rivals Bloemfontein Celtic to win the derby away at the Molemela Stadium on Sunday.

Sinethemba Jantjie scored twice and Congolese international Harris Tchilimbou got the opener as Stars romped into an 3-0 half-time lead.

But Celtic made for a dramatic finish as they pulled two goals back in the last 20 minutes but could not find a third one to complete what would have been a stunning comeback.

Victory was not enough to lift Stars out of second last place but they are now five points clear of bottom club Maritzburg United and within one win of getting themselves out of the relegation zone.

Celtic‚ who could have gone up to fifth place with a win‚ initially looked bewildered as Stars bossed the midfield and caught them on numerous occasions with clever balls over the top of the defence which the visitor’s speedy players ran onto.

Jantjie‚ who is heading to Bidvest Wits next season‚ showed his pace and finishing ability in scoring twice in five minutes. His first goal came after 39 minutes as he ran onto a flick on from Eleazar Rodgers‚ headed it on himself‚ then turned the defender Ronald Pfumbidzai  before slamming it home with his left foot.

His second goal followed soon after as he got goal-side of Celtic’s three-man defence and showed composure as he raced away with just the keeper to beat.

Tchilimbou got the scoring started in the 28th minute with a darting run to beat the offside trap but found himself isolated as he tried to find a teammate to pass to. With no one in support‚ he turned towards goal and slammed the ball home with his left foot‚ past a bemused Patrick Tignyemb.

Celtic only got going after making three quick changes in the second half but squandered a penalty when Ndumiso Mabena was brought down in a clumsy challenge by Stars’ new Botswana signing Simisane Mathumo.

Kabelo Dlamini had his effort well saved by Ali Sangare in the Stars’ goal. But Tshepo Rikhotso rifled the ball into the roof of the net three minutes later to make it 3-1 and then a goalkeeping howler some 10 minutes later allowed Victor Letsoalo to reduce the deficit even further.

But as much as they tried there was no way through for a third as Stars held on for vital points.