Mwape Musonda moved on to double figures for goals in the Absa Premiership as his hat-trick inspired an impressive come-from-behind win over Chippa United.
The Chilli Boys were looking to bounce back following last week’s defeat to SuperSport United, while Leopards were aiming to end a run of six games without a win.
The hosts took control in the early stages of the encounter, but it was Chippa who went close to breaking the deadlock as Lerato Manzini headed on 15 minutes.
Chippa’s persistence eventually paid off as Andile Mbenyane’s superb pass released Thabo Rakhale, who lobbed the ball over the on-rushing King Ndlovu on 23 minutes.
Mwape Musonda was the league’s leading scorer with nine goals heading into the clash, but he missed the chance to add his tally when he fired horribly over the crossbar on the 30-minute mark.
Leopards were made to rue that miss five minutes before the break as Rakhale turned provider to unselfishly tee up Manzini for the simple tap-in.
Musonda made up for his earlier miss on the stroke of halftime with a well-taken first-time volley to move on to 10 league goals for the campaign and reduced the deficit in the process.
A minute after the break, Chippa were afforded the chance to restore their two-goal advantage when they awarded a penalty. Ruzaigh Gamildien took responsibility, but saw his spot-kick saved by Ndlovu.
Leopards then levelled matters on 57 minutes as Musonda netted his 11th goal of the season with a clinical finish in the box after being played in by Mhlongo.
The turnaround was complete four minutes later and it was Musonda once again, with the striker nodding home at the far post to complete his hat-trick.
The likes of Rhulani Manzini and Tercious Malepe were introduced by Clinton Larsen in the final 15 minutes, but the changes could not pay dividends as Dylan Kerr’s troops were able to hold on for the win.
The win sees Leopards remain in 12th spot, but they move five points clear 15th-place Chippa and eight clear of rock-bottom Maritzburg United.
Here’s how they lined up:
Leopards: 22 K. Ndlovu, 13 Zulu, 2 Masalesa, 28 Munganga, 15 Bereng (Mhlongo 30′), 5 Munyai, 14 Nange, 3 Ndou, 12 Kapinga, 11 Musonda, 17 Hlongwane
Subs: 32 Muleka, 4 Khutlang, 25 Mokoena, 29 Masia, 30 Mhlongo, 31 T. Ndlovu, 37 Sekotlong.
Chippa: 42 Mzimela, 20 Shitolo, 47 Nsabiyumva, 44 Komane, 4 Macheke, 24 Gamildien (R.Manzini 64′), 8 Rakhale, 28 Malama, 21 Tlolane, 7 Mbenyane, 25 Manzini.
Subs: 34 Mothwa, 11 Mayambela, 12 Malepe, 17 Klate, 18 Makobela, 19 Manzini, 23 Maphanga.