Following his side’s hard-fought 3-0 Premiership win over Bloemfontein Celtic in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter says he was happy to walk away with the victory against a resilient visiting outfit.
Although the score-line flattered the hosts, Chiefs were made to sweat at times as Celtic coach Ernst Middendorp’s game-plan left Chiefs frustrated at not being able to break down the back row and allowed the Free State side plenty of opportunities to get a result against their more fancied opponents.
“Football’s a funny game isn’t it? I think we can do so many things so much better than we did,” Baxter said after the game at FNB Stadium.
“The guys showed a lot of character to defend our goal bravely, and with what good quality possession we had, we turned [them] into goal chances. So to win a game like this 3-0… I am delighted.”
Bernard Parker opened the scoring with a stunning volley from his weaker foot shortly before the interval. Knowledge Musona added the second 20 minutes from the end, as Chiefs opened up a nine point lead at the summit of the league table.
The cherry on top came in the form of an own-goal from Keagan Buchanan, who was unfortunate enough to put the ball into his own net a minute from the end.
Despite the three unanswered goals, Baxter admitted that Celtic could have undone his outfit had they taken their chances better in the final third.
“Celtic had loads of moments, partly because they played quite well and partly because we didn’t,” the former Bafana Bafana boss added.
“We gave them the ball far too often, and they wanted to pop the ball behind our offensive fullbacks, and it gave them joy.
“We had good 100 percent chances, they had lots of situations where your heart’s in your mouth. But I don’t want those situations either, and I certainly don’t want people in front of [Itumeleng] Khune taking a pot shot free of change.”
Celtic were asking plenty of questions of the Chiefs defence at the set-piece, with the best of the action coming from corners and free-kicks, which were aimed at skipper Clayton Daniels, who was winning everything in the air but was unable to hit the target with his head.
“I think we could have done a lot of things better, but if you had given me 3-0 before the game, I would have taken it in a heartbeat,” the Briton said.
Middendorp said Chiefs took their chances and bagged the goals when they could, while Phunya Sele Sele did the opposite.
“We had our possibilities [and] we didn’t take them, that’s the difference between the teams,” Middendorp said.
“They had three or four possibilities, and they take 85 percent. I expect more and we can do better. In the end, we lost and that’s it. They scored three, and we nothing.”