“My players are fatigued, we have not had a decent rest, the cup games and the trip here was too much for the boys. The result was far much better than the exhibition,” he said.
Galaxy made their intention clear from the onset. They controlled possession and had the ball to themselves at least eight minutes of the opening 10 minutes. The hosts played a chasing game and closed tight at the back. The visitors were not that pressing in the final third, instead Highlanders challenged better in front of goals with the traces of the ball possession they salvaged in the half.
The first shot on target came from Emmanuel Thakadu in the 12th minute against the run of play. Thato Gabathokwe released Thakadu into the box and the striker’s half volley forced a great save from Ezekiel Morake. Thero Setsile responded with a 30 yards piledriver two minutes later but an alert Lapologang Molatlhegi was well positioned to collect. Highlanders nearly shocked Galaxy when a loose ball fell at Otaarongwa Nthumolang’s feet in the penalty area but his miscued effort that left the goalkeeper flatfooted went inches wide.
On the half hour mark, Galaxy were handed a soft penalty. Keabetswe Obonetse was penalised for a nudge on Tebogo Sembowa inside the box. Setsile converted the spot kick. Five minutes later, the referee turned down a penalty appeal at the other end when Kagiso Molapi clipped Nthumolang with a late challenge inside the box. In the 36th minute, Nthumolang startled Morake when he rattled his crossbar with a long-range shot.
On the closing minute of the half, Lebogang Ditsele nearly capped with a fantastic goal, but his well-taken overhead kick went over the cross bar. Highlanders had a descent start from the break, but Gabathokwe who was having a bad day in office on the left wing failed to connect to a well laid cross from Temo Keoreileng from inside the box.
was characterised by little action in front of goals, Patrick Kaunda took full advantage of the lethargic Highlanders defence in two identical moves.
After a brilliant move on the 72nd minute, Ditsile found Gilbert Baruti on the left wing, who posted a cross into the box and Kaunda climbed high to redirect into the far post.
In the 80th minute, Highlanders were awarded a penalty when Thato Kebue pushed Nthumolang who had outrun him into the box. The experienced Leteng Legopelo stepped up, but the brilliant Morake chose the right side and collected the spot kick. A similar combination of Baruti and Kaunda drilled the last dagger into the Highlanders scalp on the 84th minute. From the left side Baruti, who had a quiet afternoon pinpointed Kaunda with a curled cross and the striker headed home to claim a brace and third goal for his side.
After the third goal, Galaxy kept possession to wind down the clock and were easy on their opponents that huffed and puffed but were not challenging at the right points. Da Costa felt their opponents deserved at least a goal from the match that he also felt his side was a shadow of themselves. His Highlanders counterpart, Blessing Moyo figured the encounter was too tactical and they suffered from their mistakes. “We made three mistakes in a tactically closed game and we were punished. We had our chance when our opponent made a mistake and we could not come to the party. It is spilled milk and we move ahead with our heads high, it was tough game with a brilliant side,” Moyo said.