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Orlando Pirates' good form this year continued as they outclassed BidVest Wits 2-0 in an action-packed Absa Premiership encounter at BidVest Stadium on Saturday.
Former Wits player Benson Mhlongo scored in the 42nd minute after some mesmerising work down the left flank by Teko Modise. And man-of-the-match Katlego Mashego sealed the win with a superb finish in the 81st minute after an unforced error by Wits' left-back Patrick Phungwayo.
With the 2010 Fifa World Cup 500 days away, it's matches like this that will get the crowds streaming back into the stadiums. There were excellent saves, robust defending, slick passing and a classic midfield duel between Bucs' Joseph Kamwendo and Wits captain Sibusiso Mahlangu.
The majority of Pirates crowd added colour and noise to the usually quiet surroundings, and urged their players on throughout the 90 minutes.
Wits started better and put the visitors on a back foot, with Fabricio Rodrigues hitting a free kick straight at Moeneeb Josephs and Dale Studzinski flashing a header wide within the first 10 minutes.
At the other end, Wits rookie keeper Darren Keet denied mercurial winger Dikgang Mabalane a chance to score in the 35th minute. The rebound fell to Mashego but he took too long to strike and a Wits defender came sliding in to deflect his shot for a corner. Kamwendo dictated terms in the middle of the park, working tirelessly to get his team forward while Modise provided width down the left flank.
The Bafana Bafana midfielder skinned Rodrigues and Mahlangu down the left and put the ball on Mhlongo's head, who could not miss from seven yards out. Pirates took their slender lead into the break to the delight of their fans.
Kamwendo, who worked tirelessly in midfield, was taken off at the hour mark. The Malawian received rapturous applause from the "Ghost", who obviously appreciated the way he bossed the game.
Wits fought hard to get back into the match and Marawan Bantam brought out a fine save from Josephs, who threw himself in the way of the rocket-like shot which was goal-bound.
Wits defender Ashraf Hendricks got a red card for bringing down Modise outside the big box.
Bucs also lost Lucas Thwala, who was given marching orders for a second bookable offence. - Sapa