BULAWAYO – Veteran striker Philip Marufu inspired visiting Black Rhinos to a crushing 3-0 victory over hosts How Mine on Sunday at Luveve Stadium to boost the army side's chances of surviving relegation.
Marufu grabbed the first two goals for Rhinos before capping a fine afternoon by providing the assist for the third and final goal that was scored by second half substitute Lot Chiwunga.
Sunday's result was Philani "Beefy" Ncube's first defeat since taking over as the head coach of How Mine.
"It was always coming. That's football for you and today we were beaten all systems out.
"We just have to regroup and shift our attention to the Mbada Diamonds Cup this coming weekend," said Ncube in his post match interview.
Marufu scored his first goal after just four minutes of play when he headed home after capitalising on a moment of indecision by How Mine keeper Ephraim Mazarura.
Mazarura let a long ball that was flighted into his box by Rhinos left back Wilson Chakanyuka bounce and Marufu nipped in from the blind side to head home the opener.
The match then degenerated into a dull affair with the hosts' only meaningful goal attempt coming on 35 minutes when Gilbert Banda headed over a cross from his central defence partner Herbert Dick.
Marufu grabbed his brace two minutes after the restart when he headed home a cross by Gilbert Mushangazhike.
Again the hosts were guilty of indecision as Banda and Brighton Dube allowed Marufu to head home unchallenged following some hesitation to commit from both defenders.
Dube nearly made amends on 54 minutes but his speculative shot hit the cross bar and bounced back into play with Rhinos keeper Herbert Rusawo a beaten man.
The third Rhinos goal was also a header after a quick counter attack saw Marufu crossing for Chiwunga to head past Mazarura and take the game beyond How Mine's reach.
An ecstatic Rhinos coach Arthur Tutani was full of praise for his charges.
"It was a great game, we played very well and I think it’s because we did our homework properly.
"I am proud of my players and although we are still in the relegation zone we are working hard to come out of it," Tutani said.
The victory took Rhinos' points tally to 26, the same as fifth from bottom Hwange who have a better goal aggregate.
The army side is fourth from bottom while How Mine slipped to ninth place.
Elsewhere, FC Platinum moved into fourth place with a 1-3 away win over strugglers Tripple B at Dilibadzimu Stadium in Beitbridge.
The home side scored first in the fifth minute through Givemore Fireyi before Elvis Moyo equalised for Platinum in the 11 minutes later.
Obrey Chirwa scored the visitors’ second in the 90th minute with Winston Mhango securing the victory with a third in the fourth minute of added time.