Orlando Pirates moved three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Absa Premiership table after beating the Black Leopards 2-0 at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
Milutin Sredojevic’s side came into this encounter after claiming a crucial 1-0 victory over fellow title challengers Bidvest Wits in their previous league game at the Bidvest Stadium last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Dylan Kerr’s men suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Polokwane City at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in their previous league clash on Sunday.
The two sides have already met twice this season, with Pirates coming out on top in the first clash after beating Leopards 2-1 in the league, before the Soweto giants were defeated on penalties in the Nedbank Cup first round by Lidoda Duvha in January.
The home side got the game off on the front foot, with Thembinkosi Lorch threatening early in match.
Leopards thought they should have been awarded a penalty in the fourth minute, but their appeal for a penalty was waved away by the referee.
Musa Nyatama nearly handed his side the lead in the 18th minute, but his glancing header flew inches wide of the target.
Pirates’ persistence paid off as they broke the deadlock five minutes later when Luvuyo Memela’s free kick found the top corner to make it 1-0.
Justin Shonga should have doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Memela’s cutback deflected into the Zambian’s path, but Shonga failed to make the most of his chance as he failed to hit the target.
The visitors nearly levelled matters in the 35th minute after Karabi Tshepe made his way into the area before unleashing a strike at goal. His effort deflected off Marshall Munetsi and went inches wide of the target.
Shonga had another chance to double Pirates’ lead on the stroke of half-time, but the Zambian failed to hit the target from point-blank range.
Leopards started the second half brightly with Tshepe forcing Wayne Sandilands into make a great save to deny his strike.
Pirates continued to press forward and nearly found the back of the net when Mpho Makola sent Lorch through on goal, but Leopards keeper Rotshidzwa Muleka did well to deny the Pirates attacker.
Shonga came even closer moments later when he rattled the woodwork with a strike of his own.
The home side eventually doubled their lead 10 minutes before time when Lorch’s header beat the onrushing Muleka to find the net after latching on to a long-ball from Ben Motshwari.
However, Pirates held on to their lead over Leopards until the final whistle to move three points clear of second place Mamelodi Sundowns.
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