After a superb strike from Thabiso Kutumela had put United ahead midway through the first half, the hosts were unable to capitalise on opportunities to add to their tally and in the end had to endure an anxious last 25 minutes of the match as AmaZulu pushed hard for an equaliser.
The Team of Choice looked bright and energetic from the kick off and they had a couple of half chances early on.
That included a 13th minute opening as United were close to taking the lead when Gabriel Nyoni’s header was parried by Siyabonga Mbatha into the path of Kutumela, but his shot skewed well wide.
Kutumela was however to make amends in clinical fashion on 26 minutes when he rifled the ball into the top corner after Mbatha had deflected Mxolisi Kunene’s cross in his direction.
Although the Team of Choice were on top for good periods in the first half, Usuthu also had some dangerous attacks. But some committed defending – including a goal-line clearance from Nazeer Allie and several excellent saves from Richard Ofori, kept the visitors off the score-sheet.
A minute before the interval it seemed as if Maritzburg were to drive home the advantage with a second goal when Kutumela beat Mbatha from close range, but the effort was ruled out due to what was deemed a foul by the striker on AmaZulu defender Phumlani Gumede in the build-up.
The Durban side came out playing with more intensity after the restart and the complexion of the match changed as the Team of Choice were unable to produce the same attacking fluency as they had in the opening stanza.
As proceedings wore on, AmaZulu seemed to grow in confidence as the home side dropped deeper into their own half.
The pressure mounted as Usuthu put a series of crosses and long balls into the box, together with several free kicks and corners.
United were however well focussed at the back and some steely defending saw them over the line for a second KwaZulu-Natal derby win in 2020, despite a late onslaught by the visiting team.
Coach Eric Tinkler and his men will now set their sights on next Sunday’s Absa Premiership encounter against Baroka FC in Polokwane.
Maritzburg: Ofori, Sanoka, Morgan, De Reuck, Allie, Buchanan, Claasen, Kunene, Nyoni, Kutumela, Moseamedi
Subs: Mpandle, Timm, Hlongwane, Shandu, Augusto, Xulu, Jappie
AmaZulu: Mbatha, Booysen, Ncube, Darpoh, Mabiliso, Gumede, Magaqa, Sithebe, Lacny, Chawapihwa, Ntuli
Subs: Boshoff, Xoki, Morton, Vilakazi, Majoro, Ncobeni, Sikhakhane
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