Pirates close gap at the top
Tokelo Rantie (Gallo Images)
Durban - Tokelo Rantie’s early goal helped Orlando Pirates move joint top on points on the Absa Premiership table after a 1-0 victory over AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium here on Wednesday.
The Buccaneers striker, who is on loan from Swedish club IFK Hassleholm, scored after six minutes when he latched onto a flick-on header from Benni McCarthy before rifling in powerfully.
Rantie had further chances to extend the advantage for the visitors, but was thwarted by Mbongeni Mzimela in the home side’s goal, while the best opportunities for Usuthu fell to Ayanda Dlamini and Marc van Heerden.
The win, Pirates’ first against AmaZulu in Durban for five seasons, took them to 43 points, the same number as leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, although the Brazilians have a superior goal difference.
The hosts meanwhile remained in eighth place on the log and will be hugely disappointed in a game that lacked any real bite.
Visiting goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, in the team instead of the suspended Moeneeb Josephs, avoided early embarrassment when an attempted clearance struck the face of Goodman Dlamini before bouncing wide.
But Pirates wasted little time in taking the lead with their first legitimate attack seeing Rantie put them in front.
A high ball though the middle was flicked on by McCarthy, with the forward showing good control from 12-yards out to beat Tamsanqa Teyise with a powerful shot straight through the middle.
The hosts tried to hit straight back with Van Heerden forcing Meyiwa to dive low to his left and turn a 20-yard effort away for a corner, before successive free-kicks from the defender in promising positions flew over.
At the other end, Rantie almost doubled the advantage after 18 minutes when another flick-on by McCarthy came to him on the right, but his cross-goal effort was excellently pushed away by Mzimela in the AmaZulu goal.
It was 1-0 to the visitors at the break and after the restart, Namibia international Tangeni Shipahu tested Meyiwa with a low shot to the near post that was parried away for a corner.
Pirates had to wait until the 64th minute for their next opening and it came after McCarthy and Rantie combined splendidly down the left, before the final shot by the latter was deflected wide by a last-ditch Belux Kasonga tackle.
That proved the final chance as the visitors held on for victory.