Orlando Pirates bounced back from their defeat in the TKO to beat Free State Stars 3-1 at Globe Park on Tuesday evening to keep them top of the Absa Premiership.
Pirates came into the encounter looking to switch their focus back to their league title ambitions after heartbreak in the Telkom Knockout final last Saturday.
The Buccaneers top the league standings with 24 points in 14 games, although they have played more games than anyone else in the league, which placed extra importance on continuing to win and keep them ahead of the chasing pack.
Ea Lla Koto on the other hand sit 11th on the league and have only won 3 of their 14 games this season accumulating 13 points. This has placed Stars in a precarious close to the team close to the bottom and need to pick up points to avoid being pulled into a relegation scrap.
The home side has won each of the last four encounter between these two sides, a streak which Pirates were desperate to break by picking up the three points.
Milutin Sredojevic would have been looking for a fast start after Saturday’s cup final defeat and that’s exactly what he got as his side opened the scoring with just 13 minutes played. The Buccaneers producing a well-worked set piece which was rounded off by Thembinkosi Lorch from 12-yards out.
Despite the early goal for Pirates, the home side showed some fight with Harris Tchilimbou going close with an acrobatic effort after 25 minutes.
Pirates, however, then doubled their lead with 28 minutes played. Justin Shonga latching onto a pass before gliding past his defender and firing his effort past Badra Sangaré to put his side in firm control.
Stars fought back again and finished the half strongly but were unable to capitalise on their openings with Pirates taking the 2-0 lead into the break.
Ea Lla Koto were then handed a lifeline in the game when Pirates captain Happy Jele unfortunately deflected Sinethemba Jantjie’s cross into his own net.
Now back in the game, Stars surged forward in search of an equaliser and came close when Jantjie smashed with 60 minutes gone. Jantjie was then denied by Siyabonga Mpontshane, who pulled off a smart save to keep his side in the lead with 20 minutes to go.
The home sides’ hope was the dealt a hammer blow two minutes before then end as Sibusiso Masina was shown a straight red card just minutes after coming on as a substitute.
The Sea Robbers then wrapped up the game in stoppage time as Linda Mntambo produced a clinical finish from inside the box.
3-1 the final score as Pirates remain top of the Absa Premiership.
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix
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