ORLANDO PIRATES BEAT AMAZULU TO KEEP LEADERS SUNDOWNS IN THEIR SIGHTS

ORLANDO PIRATES BEAT AMAZULU TO KEEP LEADERS SUNDOWNS IN THEIR SIGHTS

Orlando Pirates are still alive in the Absa Premiership title race that has turned into a two horse race between them and Mamelodi Sundowns.

The Buccaneers beat Usuthu 2-1 in an entertaining clash at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday afternoon through goals in either half from Musa Nyatama and Thabo Qalinge to narrow the gap on log-leaders Sundowns to three points.

Pirates‚ who have played one game more‚ remain within touching distance of the Brazilians who have the opportunity of restoring their six points lead at the summit when they take on Golden Arrows at Loftus on Tuesday.

Given that they have been knocked out of the Nedbank Cup‚ Pirates will only return to league action on April 25 when they will be at home to Bidvest Wits on the same day when Sundowns will be away to Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

Pirates were stunned by AmaZulu early in the game when their hosts took the lead after eleven minutes against the run of play with experienced striker Mabhuti Khenyeza finishing off a pass from Ovidy Karuru after they launched a quick counter attack.

Pirates equalised just after the half hour mark through the Nyatama’s well directed header from a free kick that was taken by Luvuyo Memela after AmaZulu goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha was judged to have fouled Thembinkosi Lorch.

Pirates launched a quick attack and Mbatha needlessly moved out of his line to bring down Lorch on the edge of the box. Nyatama rose above everyone in the penalty area to punish him from the resultant set piece by Memela.

AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson started the match with the vast attacking experience of Khenyeza and Siyabonga Nomvethe but he replaced them late in the second half as they struggled to cope with the pace of the match with Pirates pressing hard for the winner.

Mbatha‚ who was guilty for Pirates’ equaliser in the first half‚ produced a stunning diving save to deny the dangerous Justin Shonga after 74 minutes from close range as the visitirs continued to push for the winning goal.

They got it right five minutes later when Qalinge powered home a thunderous shot from close range to beat Mbatha and ensured that Pirates remain in the hunt for their first Absa Premiership league title since the 2011/2012 season.

MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE / TimesLive

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