Platinum stretch lead; Bosso, CAPS, Ngezi, held

Zimbabwean football fans cheer on their team Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Substitute Gift Mbweti and Winston Mhango scored two quick second-half goals as FC Platinum overcame a battling Chapungu 2-0 to open up a four-point lead at the top of the standings in the Zimbabwe Premier League.

Platinum have been struggling to get into top gear since the mid-season break and desperately needed a win against the relegation-threatened airmen.

Coach Norman Mapeza however had to endure a frustrating first half as the visitors put up a commendable fight for the three points on offer.

Play opened up somewhat after halftime and it was Mbweti who broke the deadlock on 62 minutes with a powerful left-footer from just inside the box.

Mhango doubled the advantage barely 15 minutes later to put the contest to bed, and Mapeza can breath easily again after his second consecutive win to end a troubled run.

Platinum's victory was made all the more sweet as second-placed Ngezi could only manage a 1-1 draw against Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium.

Defender Keith Murera beat the halftime whistle to put Ngezi in front, but the home side responded immediately after the resumption of hostilities through towering captain Moses Jackson.

Ngezi then had striker Clive Augusto send off as chances of an outright victory evaporated, actually ending the match on the back foot with Chicken Inn pouring forward in search of a winner.

Ngezi remain in second place despite the draw, but they are now four points behind title rivals Platinum.

The draw was equally disastrous for Chicken Inn, who fell 11 points behind the log leaders and now have little margin for error if they are to remain in the title race.

Meanwhile, giants CAPS United and Highlanders, in fourth and fifth place respectively, failed to take full advantage of the result in Bulawayo as they slumped to identical goalless draws.

Highlanders, looking to make it three wins in a row, were indebted to goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who saved a second-half penalty to keep the scoreline goalless in their encounter against Nichrut in Gweru.

CAPS had an equally uninspiring afternoon in the stalemate against Herentals, with the strike-force once again proving a major drawback in their push to break into the top four. A fourth draw in five matches leaves coach Lloyd Chitembwe's men 16 points adrift of the summit.

Goals from Wellington Taderera and either side of the break gave Black Rhinos a deserved 2-0 victory over Bulawayo City, who have won only once in their previous ten matches. Rhinos have no relegation worries to content with and are actually pushing for a top-five finish.