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HomeSportIt’s almost party time for Sundowns after Orlando Pirates beat SuperSport United

It’s almost party time for Sundowns after Orlando Pirates beat SuperSport United

Johannesburg — A late Tapelo Xoki penalty earned Orlando Pirates a crucial win as they moved closer to second place in the DStv Premiership after beating incumbents SuperSport United 1-0 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday night.

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With this win, Pirates remained third in the league with 37 points, two behind SuperSport, who’ve been holding on to the coveted secondary Champions League qualification spot for some time.

But, SuperSport loss also meant that there other big winners after this result were also league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who are just two points away from mathematically wrapping up a sixth consecutive title.

For some time, the match looked to defy its top of the table clash billing as chances were few and far between, but a late penalty from Xoki ensured that Pirates prevailed, nonetheless.

With the Champions League’s spot up for grabs, these two teams, which came into this match on each other’s neck for some time, were expected to trade blows, scoring goals in a fury.

And yet by the half-an-hour mark, they were still holding ducks each, with both goalkeepers, Pirates’ Sipho Chaine and SuperSport’s Ricardo Goss, yet to be tested.

And while there were interesting duels — SuperSport duo Grant Mergeman and Siphesihle Ndlovu up against Miguel Timm and Thabang Monare — the early stages told a story of familiar foes.

There were four players between the two teams that were playing against their former club, including Zakhele Lepasa who joined SuperSport on loan from Pirates in January.

Lepasa, though, had an underwhelming return to his parent club that coach Gavin Hunt withdrew him just after the hour-mark for defender Onismor Bhasera.

Meanwhile, Siphesihle Ndlovu, who joined SuperSport from Pirates during the start of the season, held his own in the first half, cleaning up for his defence, starving Pirates’ striking unit supply.

That feat also meant that the light of Monnapule Saleng, the Pirates’ forward who’s heavily tipped for the PSL Footballer of the Season due to his exploits this season, was dimmed.

And that didn’t spell good news for Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos who’d have wanted the forward at his very best prior to the crucial Afcon qualifiers against Liberia next week.

Pirates had chances to find the breakthrough first, especially in the second half as they sent waves of attacks after the other in SuperSport’s half only to be let down by their finishing.

Hardly animated with his team’s pressing game earlier, Hunt kicked bottles and cooler boxes in anger after Chaine’s brilliant save late in the game.

Against the run of play, Patrick Mswanganyi raced his way into the box, eliminating his marker before hitting a hard and low effort that Chaine blocked with his feet, calming nerves.

And perhaps Hunt knew that miss would be costly as Pirates were awarded a late penalty after Thathayaone Ditlhokwe brought down Saleng in the box.

Tapelo Xoki made no mistake from the resultant spot-kick, sending Goss the wrong way and Pirates within touching distance of the coveted Champions League spot with seven games to spare.


IOL Sport

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