Highlanders . . . . . . .(2) 4
Blue Rangers . . . . . . . . . 0
Milton Ncube was the toast of the day for Highlanders, scoring three spectacular goals against Blue Rangers as the Bulawayo football giants fired warning shots in an exciting Castle Lager Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Ncube notched the hat-trick while the fourth goal came from substitute Ozias Zibande, sending about 5 000 Highlanders supporters, who braved the chilly weather, into a frenzy.
It was the second hat-trick of the day after Takesure Chinyamas treble sunk Hardbody at Rufaro Stadium.
Despite the four goals which sent them to the top of the standings, Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu said, he still had to work on finishing as he believed they could have scored more goals.
We started on a positive note but there is still a lot of work that has to be done. We still have to work on finishing and push for more goals. We could have scored more than four goals because we created several chances. We will be taking each game as it comes, Kaindu said.
Rangers coach Wishes Shiridzinomwa said his boys jaded performance was due to the teams late start to the preparations for the 2012 season.
We started preparing late and the fitness levels of the boys are not good. We only trained for five weeks before the start of the season and that was a big blow for us, Shiridzinomwa said.
The former champions were in command after just 10 minutes when midfielder Simon Munawa, anchorman Mthulisi Maphosa and Bhekimpilo Ncube exchanged passes before the later spotted on rushing Ncube.
Ncube rifled a powerful volley from outside the box, beating Blue Rangers goalkeeper Tapiwa Zvaita all systems out.
Maphosa was involved in the second goal as well in the 27th minute, engineered by Peter Moyo from the right frank.
Moyo spotted Maphosa and the former FC Platinum midfielders in-swinger landed on the path of Ncube who did not waste time inside the box and curled the ball to the far left post to double Highlanders advantage.
In the 69th minute, Ncube executed a scissors kick inside the box to beat Zvaita after receiving a cross from Bruce Kangwa, which eluded the Blue Rangers shot stopper, sending the Bosso fans into a delirium.
Zibande then put the icing on the cake in the 80th minute, shielding Rangers centre-back Chrispen Dickson after receiving a pass from fellow striker Graham Ncube and sending a grounder past an outdrawn Zvaita.
Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda was virtually on holiday for the entire 90 minutes as Blue Rangers did not make any meaningful attack with Highlanders centre-backs Innocent Mapuranga and Eric Mudzingwa shutting out every move from the visitors.
Blue Rangers were out of the game with former Shooting Stars veteran Elliot Matsika, sitting out the opening half before being introduced in the 46th minute for Effort Kopeni but could not change the fortunes for the visitors.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, A Musasa, H Moyo, E Mudzingwa, I Mapuranga, M Maphosa, P Moyo, S Munawa (A Ndiweni 76th min), G Ncube, M Ncube (O Zibande 76th min), B Ncube (B Kangwa 53rd min)
Blue Rangers: T Zvaita, T Mpungu, C Borama P Mazaranyane, C Dickson, B Bvumwe, E Kopeni (E Matsika 46th min), S Hadebe (T Muparaganda 76th min), T Ushe, T Munetsi, E Gwiliza (V Nzombe 60th min)