Moroka Swallows staged a brave fightback but still crashed to a 3-2 loss to Kaizer Chiefs at the Rand Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Beautiful Birds needed the win to secure the second spot in the Premier Soccer League table and qualify for the African Champions League next season, but they came up short against a spirited Amakhosi outfit.
Chiefs, who have been in great form of late, are also chasing a spot in continental club competition and the win moved them up to fifth on the log, within reach of Wits University and Supersport United.
Swallows, who lost out in the PSL title race to Pirates after their draw against the Clever Boys on Saturday, started very slowly and quickly found themselves a goal behind.
David Radebe, fresh off a hat-trick against Manning Rangers, continued his rich vein of form when he shot past Arthur Bartman in the Birds goal.
The scoreline remained until the 63rd minute when the former Free State Stars man again found the net, this time capitalising on some good work from Cyril Nzama.
Chiefs scored a third five minutes later when Radebe turned provider for Arthur Zwane, but that seemed to spark the home side into life.
Lucas Sebona reduced the deficit soon after and Gary McNab converted a penalty in the 89th minute after Zwane handled inside the box, but it was a case of too little, too late.
Swallows remain stuck on 53 points, with Wits and United now both breathing down their necks.
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