Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates boss Julio Leal insists they are improving with every game despite their 2-1 loss to Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night.Pirates were by far the more dominant side in the first period as Benni McCarthy opened the scoring after just 24 minutes.But his dismissal for a second yellow card at the end of the first half turned the tie on its head as Diyo Sibisi and Mor Diouf both netted after the break to hand all three points to Ian Palmer's side.After the match, Leal admitted his side struggled against the 11 men of the Team of Choice with the loss of a highly influential McCarthy making all the difference.He said: "I think the game was good. Our team played well throughout the two halves but in the first we were 11 players, and had some difficulties playing with 10 players because we conceded very early in second half."We played to the end to try and score and go further but we didn't get it unfortunately."He (McCarthy) was playing well in the first half, holding the ball up intelligently."But it became more difficult. They put a lot of pressure on us and got the winning goal."I think our team is improving in every aspect. We went on the offensive searching for a goal. It is a signal that we are in the right way and for the weekend we have to cool down our minds to prepare for the two days we have to go to the semi-final second leg in the MTN8"But that is another story to think for tomorrow."Bucs go into their semi-final second leg clash with Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday with a one-goal advantage after the first leg ended 3-2 in their favour.