Goals by Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule saw Orlando Pirates come from behind to secure a 2-1 victory against Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Pirates went into the Absa Premiership clash against their arch-rivals on the back on a six-game unbeaten streak in the derby, with Chiefs’ last victory having arrived in 2014 under the helm of former coach Stuart Baxter.
Milutin Sredojevic’s side went into the clash on the back of a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Chippa United in the Telkom Knockout last-16, while Giovanni Solinas’ side needed the lottery of penalties to overcome Black Leopards in their last clash.
Pirates started the clash the brighter of the two team, signalling their attacking intent from the first whistle.
Chiefs eventually found their rhythm and looked pleasing with their quick interplays, but failed to threaten in the final third.
Mpontshane made a fine save to deny a goalbound Khama Billiat after a fine ball over the top by Willard Katsande in the 14th minute.
Billiat was not to be denied in the 16th minute when he latched onto Godfrey Walusimbi’s enticing ball into the area to give Chiefs the lead.
Pirates were awarded a penalty in the 26th minute when Siyabonga Ngezana was adjudged to have brought down Augustine Mulenga in the area, however Justin Shonga was denied by goalkeeper Khune.
Innocent Maela managed to find the equaliser for the home side as he rose highest to head home a corner after some poor defending by Mario Booysen and Ngezana.
Sensing a vulnerability in Chiefs’ defence, Pirates upped their tempo and managed to find the lead in the 30th minute when a fine interchange of play from Shonga and Mulenga resulted in the easiest of tap-ins for derby debutant Vincent Pule.
Ngezana endured a torrid time in trying to deal with Pirates attacking duo Mulenga and Shonga and was guilty of a number of ill-timed tackles as Pirates went into the half-time break with the lead.
Shonga missed the easiest of tap-ins in the 60th minute following a horrible mix-up between Khune and Rama, but the Zambian somehow managed to kick the ball over the bar.
Both sides made their first substitutions of the game with Linda Mntambo and Hendrick Ekstein making their introductions for Pirates and Chiefs respectively.
Chiefs struggled to impose themselves on the game in the manner in which they did in the first-half, while Pirates looked to manage the game in a bid to see of the game.
Solinas opted for his final roll of the dice as he introduced Ryan Moon and Kabelo Mahlasela for Castro and Billiat.
Pirates, in turn signalled their intent to shut up shop as coach Micho brought on Paseka Mako for goalscorer Pule.
In the end, Pirates showed their resilience to come from behind to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory against arc-rivals Chiefs.