Impressive Brazilians outclass Bucs
Orlando Pirates were beaten 1-0 by brilliant Mamelodi Sundowns in the Absa Premiership encounter at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Hlompho Kekana’s 63rd sublime long range goal was enough to reduce the gap between Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at the top of the log as the Pretoria-based side are now on 31 points after 16 matches and eight points behind leaders Chiefs with a game in hand.
Orlando Pirates, who are playing league catch-up, suffered their fourth loss at home this season, and they will remain 6th on the log with 23 points after 13 matches, and they eight points behind Sundowns who are second and sixteen adrift of leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Orlando Pirates caretaker coach Eric Tinkler made two changes to the side that won against Bidvest Wits midweek, Daine Klate and Sifiso Myeni came on for Aubrey Ngoma and suspended Thandanani Ntshumayelo. The visiting coach Pitso Mosimane made a single change to the side that beat Golden Arrows midweek, bringing on Hlompho Kekana and Katlego Mashego was dropped to the bench.
The match started in a flier and Mamelodi Sundowns showed what they came for at Orlando when Bryce Moon’ through ball put Khama Billiat clear on goal but the striker shot high even thought it wouldn’t have counted as the line-man raised the flag for offside barely two minutes into the match.
Three minutes later the Zimbabwean came close again when his low shot went inches wide as the visiting side pilled early pressure on the home side. In the 16th minute, the Brazilians had another glorious chance to open the scoring when Khama Billiat left Oupa Manyisa lying down in the middle of the park and raced to goal before found Elias Pelembe, who beat his marker before passing the ball to Billiat who skied his effort from inside the area over the bar with goal at his mercy.
The dominating side suffered a blow when their striker Cuthbert Malajila was stretched off and Rodney Ramagalela came in after 21 minutes. The home side started to gain momentum and they had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee when Happy Jele looked to have went down under the challenge of Mzikayise Mashaba five minutes later.
Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Teko Modise tried his luck from range but Meyiwa was equal to the task before the same player shot wide of the mark from a free-kick after 38 minutes. They was another penalty appeal by the home side when Thabo Nthethe’s clearance inside the area came off his hand but the referee was unmoved with three minutes left before the break.
The half ended 0-0.
The visitors made another change in the beginning of the half bringing on Katlego Mashego in the place of Bongani Zungu to add more power upfront. The substitution almost played part as Mamelodi Sundowns almost scored just few seconds from the restart when Elias Pelembe’s cross was met by Khama Billiat, who out jumped his marker before his header came off the bar.
The former Ajax Cape Town marksman proved to be misfiring on the night when Khethokwakhe Masuku’s poor clearance saw the ball fall in the path of the unmarked Zimbabwean inside the area, but the 23-year old volleyed over the bar after 56 minutes.
The Buccaneers were also threatening against a run of play, and their striker Helder Pelembe unleashed a right footed shot from long range but his effort was straight at Kennedy Mweene, before the home coach introduced influential striker Kermit Erasmus in the place of Sifiso Myeni after 61 minutes.
Two minutes later, the visitors took the deserved lead. Teko Modise laid the perfect ball for Hlompo Kekana who unleashed a right footed thunderbolt from 25-yards that flew past helpless Senzo Meyiwa to send the visiting fans to wild celebrations, 0-1.
In the 68th minute, Sundowns came close to doubling the lead when Elias Pelembe could not direct his shot and found side netting from acute angel. The home fans showed frustrations at their goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa when the injured ‘keeper was replaced by Ghanaian shot-stopper Fatau Abdul Dauda in the 69th minute.
The home side pushed for the equaliser and they almost found it in the 75th minute but Khothokwakhe Masuku ballooned his shot from inside the area after beating his marker on the right. The home coach played his last throw of the dice when he brought on winger Aubrey Ngoma in the place of Daine Klate as he looked for the leveller in the 81st minute.
They eventually came close to levelling the matters at the death when Bryce Moon’s clearance fell on the feet of Kermit Erasmus but the substitute hit the upright from close range as the visitors head to Pretoria with maximum points.
Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa (Dauda 69’), Lekgathi ©, Matlaba, Jele, Gcaba, Klate (Ngoma 80’), Manyisa, Masalesa, Masuku, Pelembe, Myeni.
Mamelodi Sundowns: Mweene, Mashaba, Moon, Schut ©, Nthethe, Modise, Kekana, Pelembe, Zungu (Mashego 45’), Billiat (Sumaila 89’), Malajila ( Ramagalela 21’).