Johannesburg – Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates both remained winless in the Premiership after an evenly-contested 2-2 draw at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Wednesday night.
For Pirates, in particular, a share of the spoils after the defeat against Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows in the opening league game, constitutes a deflating start to the season for a team with high ambitions and the proclaimed intention of regaining the Premiership title.
Celtic opened the score after only 15 minutes. A swerving corner from former Kaizer Chiefs fullback Keegan Ritchie was headed into the net by Joel Mogorosi through a packed goalmouth of players, after ricocheting off Pirates defender Rooi Mahamutsa.
With the charged-up Celtic seemingly motivated after taking the lead, Pirates were hard-pressed not to concede a second goal within the opening half-hour, as Buccaneers goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was called into action on several occasions.
With Celtic seemingly looking as though they would go into half-time with a crucial one-goal lead, Pirates equalised in the 43rd minute through an impeccably-placed penalty kick from Oupa Manyisa, after a reckless defensive tackle presented the visitors with a way back into the contest.
Celtic made amends for the indiscretion by regaining the lead only a minute after the interval, with Ritchie again the instigator of the goal with a professional deadball kick.
This time it came from a curling 30-metre free-kick that caught the Pirates defence flat-footed and was headed into the net with power and aplomb by Alfred Ndengane at the far post.
But with what was the third goal in a matter of eight minutes of play, The Buccaneers were again on level terms in the 52nd minute. Kermit Erasmus burst through a Celtic defence that was all at sea and a grateful Manyisa had no trouble in deflecting the ball into the net from close-range.
Pirates almost found themselves behind for the third time in the match in the 65th minute, with Meyiwa averting the danger when he raced a matter of 15 metres outside his penalty area to stymie a promising Celtic attack.
Pirates substituted Daine Klate with Thabo Qalinge in the 68th minute and brought on former Chiefs forager Lehlohonolo Majoro in the closing stages and finished the stronger of the two teams, And, in the end, the battling Buccaneers did enough to earn a point. – Sapa