Orlando Pirates came from a goal down to beat Sekhukhune United 2-1 at the Orlando Stadium in the DStv Premiership on Tuesday evening.
Buccaneers captain Happy Jele was left out of the squad due to injury and was replaced by Thulani Hlatshwayo, while the likes of Bandile Shandu, Deon Hotto and Collins Makgaga were all recalled to the starting lineup.
Pirates got off to a great start and nearly broke the deadlock in the second minute when the ball fell kindly for Linda Mntambo, but the attacker could not fully control his effort and rather miscued his shot.
Siyabonga Mpontshane was called into action for the first time in the 16th minute when he got tested from a free kick, the Pirates keeper doing well to regather the ball after initially fumbling it.
At the other end, Tshegofatso Mabasa unleashed an ambitious effort from outside the box, but saw his effort comfortably saved by Toaster Nsabata.
Pirates nearly took the lead in the 24th minute when Bandile Shandu almost forced an own goal with a dangerously low ball into the box, but Nsbata was perfectly positioned to make a vital save.
Collins Makgaka produced Pirates’ next chance on the half-hour mark but saw his shot deflected from goal.
Sekhukhune were nearly gifted a goal three minutes later after Mpontshane came off his line to punch the ball into Ohizu, who could not capitalise on the error as he dragged his effort off target.
The visitors eventually took the lead in the 41st minute when Seth Parusnath was played through on goal before curling the ball past Mpontshane as Sekhukhune went into the break with the lead, despite Pirates’ dominance.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings in the second half as they looked to find the equalising goal early in the second stanza.
Fortune Makaringe had an opportunity to level matters in the 55th minute when he received a cutback from Paseka Mako, but the midfielder could not keep his effort down as it sailed over the goal.
The Buccaneers then made a triple substitution two minutes later as Kwame Peprah, Terrence Dzvukamanja and Kabelo Dlamini came on to replace Peprah, Mabasa and Makgaka, respectively.
Peprah nearly made an instant impact in the 64th minute when he had a chance to head the ball home but he could not direct it on target.
Nsabata came to his side’s rescue in the 74th minute when he made an excellent save to deny Dzvukamanja’s acrobatic effort from just inside the box.
Pirates were then awarded a penalty a minute later after the Sekhukhune defender Ryan De Jong was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area. Mntambo stepped up and made no mistake from the spot kick.
The home side were not sitting back and took the lead for the first time in the 77th minute when substitute Dlamini curled his effort into the top corner after Sekhukhune failed to clear the ball away from danger.
Peprah looked to add Pirates’ third goal in the 82nd minute when he tried to catch Nsabata off guard with a venomous strike towards the near post, but the keeper was equal to the challenge.
Sekhukhune should have equalised with a minute left to play but Mpontshane produced a good save to keep out Thabo Rakhale’s volley, while Hotto played the ball through to Dzvukamanja, who hit the crossbar before Hlatshwayo’s long-range shot was saved by the keeper in stoppage time.
Pirates managed to hold on to their lead over Sekhukhune until the final whistle to walk away with the win and all three points on home soil.
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