Khama Billiat and captain Knowledge Musona combined twice as Zimbabwe beat hosts Zambia 2-1 at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Tuesday to move second in Group H for the 2021 Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The victory sees Zimbabwe stand at four points and second in the group, just two behind leaders Algeria who beat Botswana 1-0 on Sunday. Zambia sit bottom having also lost their opening match 5-0 away to Algeria.
Billiat broke the deadlock in the 10th minute when he sent a header against the underside of the bar and into the net after rising unmarked outside the six yard box onto a Musona corner.
Zambia had two chances to score after going down, first Enock Mwepu’s shot from range going wide while Patson Daka forced the keeper to a great save with a header from inside the box.
On the other end, Chipolopolo keeper Mwenye Chibwe kept his side in the game with a wonderful reflex save to tap away Billiat’s connection from another of Musona’s deliveries after 17 minutes. From the corner, Evans Kangwa missed a glorious chance when his lone header at the backpost went wide.
The Zambians seemed to have been rattled by the two close shaves as they leveled scores just two minutes later. Daka showed just why his side had to recall him to the senior side after finishing off with the Under-23 campaign in Egypt when he struck the equalizer.
The Red Bull Salzburg youngster raced to a cleared ball from deep in his own half before slamming a screamer into the roof of the net with his left boot. Two minutes after taking the scores even, Zambia continued their hunt with Shonga’s shot from the left saved.
In the 34th minute, Zimbabwean defender Takunda Mudimu’s slightest of touches inside the box took the ball just inches away from Daka who was racing into goal from Lawrence Chungu’s cross.
Two minutes on the turn, Zimbabwe missed a chance when the Zambian keeper spilled a cross to Kudakwashe Mahachi’s path but he shot wide.
It was a full contest in the second half with Billiat coming close again with a shot from the right and a freekick which both missed the target. He however atoned for those two misses 12 minutes from time with a simple tap in off a Musona cross from the right.
Zambia threw everything into attack to get something off the match, but all was in vain.