Victory leaves FC Platinum on the brink of another title triumph
Second-half goals from midfielders Rodwell Chinyengetere and Farai Madhananga left FC Platinum on the brink of a historic second consecutive league title after a 2-0 win over Chicken Inn on Wednesday.
Just one point from the remaining three matches will see the reigning champions retaining the title they won for the first time last season.
The victory at Mandava Stadium put Platinum nine points clear of second-placed Ngezi Platinum, who could only manage a 2-2 draw away to Harare City in another midweek fixture played at Rufaro Stadium.
Norman Mapeza's men can now expect to secure the title with a mere draw in their next fixture against derby rivals Shabanie Mine, who have already been relegated.
Third-placed Chicken Inn were always going to give the champions a testing afternoon, and they looked the part for much of a first-half which ended goalless.
Madhananga, howeve, broke the deadlock on the hour mark with a ferocious strike from close range, with Chinyengetere doubling the advantage from the spot seven minutes later for his tenth goal in the last seven matches.
Platinum's win was made all the sweeter by Ngezi's stumble at Rufaro Stadium, where they needed to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw against Harare City.
Ngezi, the only team with a mathematical chance of challenging Platinum for the title going into matchday 31, enjoyed an ideal start as Walter Mukanga thrust them ahead in the opening five minutes.
City however needed only 10 minutes to get back on level terms with Kuda Musharu heading home a fine cross from right-back Takudzwa Chimwemwe.
Ngezi were in deep trouble moments after the breather as teenage star Tatenda Tumba profited from another Chimwemwe delivery to score his second in as many matches.
Although defender Keith Murera brought Ngezi back into the game with an equaliser just after the hour mark, the victory caretaker coach Kifton Kadurira desperately needed proved elusive.
Ngezi dominated the league early on before losing their way after the season's halfway mark, and even the recent sacking of coach Tonderai Ndiraya has failed to spark anything resembling a resurgence.
Elsewhere, veteran forward Ralph Matema and teenager Leeroy Mavunga scored either side of the break as Yadah FC stunned CAPS United 2-1 at the National Sports Stadium.
Valentine Musarurwa pulled one back for CAPS on 65 minutes, but there was to be no avoiding a fourth defeat in five matches for coach Lloyd Chitembwe's men.
While CAPS' top-four hopes continue to recede, Triangle look determined to lock up the slot after an Efinos Kamunda strike on the half-hour mark handed them a 1-0 win over Mutare City.
The Sugar Cane Farmers, who have already exceeded expectations in a season they were expected to struggle, are now five points clear of fifth-placed Harare City in the standings.
In Wednesday's other match, relegated Shabanie Mine played out a goalless draw at Bulawayo Chiefs.
Harare giants Dynamos meanwhile resume their relegation battle with a clash against Herentals at Rufaro Stadium on Thursday.
Highlanders will seek to end a three match winless run on a visit to Gweru for a tie against Chapungu in another Thursday fixture.