Bucs's win over Downs huge boost for Chiefs
Orlando Pirates indirectly made their long-standing rivals Kaizer Chiefs a massive favour by dispatching fellow title challengers Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in what was a sold-out affair here last night.
Gabadinho Mhango's 11th league goal in the first-half is what sealed the deal for the Buccaneers. Pirates' success meant the gap between leaders Chiefs and second-placed Sundowns remains nine points after 17 outings apiece.
Fuelled by their own fans clad in their famous black and white colours alongside a handful of Chiefs' in gold and black regalia, Pirates took the game to Sundowns as early as the first minute, with Luvuyo Memela and Mhango the chiefs in tormenting the Sundowns rearguard, especially Motjeka Madisha who looked shaky for the better part of the first stanza.
Pirates superiority also stem from winning the midfield battle, where Ben Motshwari and Fortune Makaringe outshone Andile Jali and skipper Hlompho Kekana.
Amid Downs' supremacy midway through the first period, Wayne Sandilands produced a great save to deny Thapelo Morena.
Yielding no tangible outcome, the Brazilians' dominance was short-lived, with the home side taking control of the match once again heading into the half hour-mark.
Memela, Vincent Pule and Mhango initiated a delightful attack with quick interplays inside the Sundowns box. This combination play saw Bucs break the deadlock via Mhango's sublime finish, assisted by Memela to beat Denis Onyango.
Realising that Pirates were dictating terms, Sundowns resorted to physically play, committing unnecessary fouls. As Downs players' tempers flared, Teboho Langerman and Jali, who was substituted at halftime for Tiyani Mabunda, were cautioned by referee Victor Gomes.
Except for Gaston Sirino's effort that hit woodwork and nearly crossed the line later on, Downs hardly threatened the home side in the second period.
Elsewhere, Bidvest Wits beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-2 at Bidvest Stadium last night.