Pirates win Soweto derby
Katlego Mashego (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates kept their Premiership title dreams alive when two goal hero Katlego Mashego led Bucs to a stunning 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs in an action packed Soweto derby played in front of a capacity crowd of 62 000 fans at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Bucs deserved their win but had to sweat for it until Mashego hammered home the final nail in Amakhosi's coffin with his second goal in the 85th minute that took the fight out of Chiefs.
It is the first time in years that Pirates have won both Soweto derbies. Bucs beat Chiefs 2-0 in the first round.
Bucs were the more attack-minded side, hit the woodwork twice and created countless chances while Chiefs were contend to hit their rivals on the counter attack and even their goal was an own goal from Bucs defender Lucas Thwala in the 78th minute which cancelled Mashego's first goal in the 71st minute.
Bucs have now closed the gap on log leaders SuperSport to three points with each club having two matches to play. United head the standings with 54 points. Pirates are next on 51. Third placed Chiefs are out of the title race with 47 points with two games to play.
It was one way traffic in the first half where Pirates dominated, created numerous chances but wasted every one. However, Bucs coach Ruud Krol made a strange decision to play midfielder Thulasizwe Mbuyane as a centre forward - a move which backfired during the opening 45 minutes.
Thulasizwe missed a couple of gilt-edged chances. But he was not alone as Mashego and the inspirational Teko Modise also missed the target.
Amakhosi goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was the busier of the two keepers. Khune did well to first punch away a dangerous cross from Mashego in the second minute as Bucs made their attacking intentions clear.
Mbuyane missed his first sitter a minute later when he failed to capitalise on a terrible defensive mix up between Chiefs defender Dominic Isaacs and his captain Tinashe Nengomasha. Mbuyane collected the loose ball and, with only Khune to beat, seemed to get stage fright and hit his shot well wide of the woodwork. Mbuyane will remember this miss as it is not often a player is presented with a goal-scoring chance on a plate by poor Chiefs' defending in a derby. Then, on four minutes, Mashego was wasteful when he collected a well-aimed pass from Modise but he ballooned his shot over the Chiefs crossbar.
The miss of the game came in the 23rd minute when Mashego released a defence-splitting cross to Modise who, in turn, laid on the perfect cross to Mbuyane who again showed no composure by blasting over the crossbar from close range.
Bucs keeper Moeneeb Josephs made his first save of the game from Abia Nale in the 27th minute when he palmed the Chiefs striker's shot for a corner. A minute later Mashego missed another chance at breaking the deadlock. Modise then headed wide on 34 minutes.
But again Bucs missed another great chance in the last minute of the half when Khune managed to get a foot to Mashego's goal-bound shot after another good pass from Modise.
Modise, who had a great game, hit a trade mark free kick against the post in the 54th minute as Pirates kept searching for the goal that would keep their title hopes alive. Chiefs substitute Jose Torrealba, who replaced Arthur Zwane at the break, had Bucs fans' hearts beating faster when his shot skimmed past the woodwork in the 63rd minute.
Bucs got their breakthrough in the 71st minute when Mashego slotted home Modise's pass.
Then Chiefs got on level terms when Thwala steered home Torrealba's shot in the 78th minute. Pirates showed character and Khune made a desperate save at the feet of substitute Siphelele Mthembu only for Mashego to steal in and snatch the winner with five minutes to play.
It could have been 3-1 two minutes later when Mashego hit the upright as Bucs went for the kill.
The derby got off to a bad start for members of the local media who were harassed when trying to get into Wits University where the PSL had arranged for them to park their cars and ride in a bus to the stadium.