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The never-say-die attitude of Free State Stars paid off when Saitjheni Tsotetsi netted in added-on time to snatch a point for his team against Orlando Pirates at a packed Charles Mopeli Stadium on Saturday.
A speculative cross by Dikgang Mabalane landed spectacularly in the back of the net to give Bucs the lead in the ninth minute but a late surge and clinical finish by Tsotetsi in the 94th minute broke The Bucs' hearts as they were so close to only their second victory of the season.
Stars applied pressure as early as the first minute, but Moeneeb Josephs was alert to grab a dangerous ball from the boot of striker Sthembiso Ngcobo.
Pirates defence seemed dazed as Stars kept the pressure but managed a counterpunch of their own.
Pirates won a free kick 40 metres from goal. Mabalane's strike looked harmless but dipped wickedly beyond the arms of goalie Kennedy Mweene into the net to the astonishment of even Bucs players.
The goal gave them a boost especially in midfield where Thembile Kanono was pulling the strings against the hosts' captain Duncan Lechesa who battled as hard as usual but was let down by his strikers' anticipation that was as woeful as their shooting.
In the second half Stars were more physical but referee Abdul Ebrahim took no nonsense and showed Lechesa, Mweene and Siyabonga Mdluli yellow cards.
With less than 20 minutes to go Mweene had a chance to redeem himself from the penalty spot. But Josephs' theatrics seemed to put him off and he to blasted the ball high over the poles.
Mweene took his frustration to the other end where he pulled Mabalane down in the box. Ebrahim pointed to the spot but failed to show the errant Mweene a caution that would have seen the Zambian off for a second offence.
But with the game virtually over, Stars left-winger Ruben Cloete sent in an inch-perfect cross to Tsotetsi who broke Pirates' hearts with a clinical header into a motionless Josephs' net.
Stars trail Pirates, who have six points from five games, by a point on the log. - Sapa