Soweto – Orlando Pirates, chasing their third straight league title, moved top of the table with a 1-0 win over SuperSport United in their Premiership match at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
Returning from a lengthy two-month two break in the league, the Buccaneers came out firing on all cylinders and quickly put themselves a goal ahead, inside the first two minutes, courtesy of an Oupa Manyisa strike.
It was to be the only goal of the encounter, and even a missed penalty by Andile Jali for Pirates could not stop the Soweto side claiming all three points to edge ahead of Kaizer Chiefs on the log.
Pirates moved to 37 points from their 17 matches, while SuperSport suffered their third defeat of the season and remained on 20 points.
The hosts looked the brighter of the two teams and were rewarded early in the encounter when Manyisa snapped up a ball near the halfway line and stepped through the SuperSport defence. He ran all the way into the box and slotted confidently past Ronwen Williams in the SuperSport goal.
Seven minutes later Daine Klate came close with a shot from inside the six-yard area, but his effort sailed just over the crossbar.
Simbarashe Sithole ran at the Pirates defence in bustling fashion in the 18th minute, but just before he made it into the box, a perfectly timed tackle came in from a defender to clear the ball and deny the attempt.
Midway through the first period, United adopted the tactic of using long throw-ins to disrupt Pirates, but the ploy had little effect.
Franklin Cale took a free kick for SuperSport from a menacing position 30 metres out in the 35th minute, but Senzo Meyiwa in the Pirates goal read it well and was able to punch the ball away.
Three mintues later, Sifiso Myeni was released by Pirates on the right and made a strong run, though his final pass was poor as he picked up a defender on the edge of the area.
Four minutes after the break, Klate went on a break of his own and crossed for Collins Mbesuma, but his header was mistimed and sailed wide by some margin.
A minute later, Thabo Moloi came close to scoring an own-goal for SuperSport. After a menacing cross came in, Moloi did not communicate with Williams and rather than clearing the ball, he deflected it straight at goal and the keeper had to react quickly to stop the danger.
Sithole headed over from close-range in the 53rd minute as SuperSport searched for an equaliser.
Five minutes later Myeni pounced on ball on the edge of the area and reeled off a powerful effort which needed a strong save from Williams to deny the home side from doubling their advantage.
Pirates were awarded a chance from the penalty spot with 17 minutes remaining, as a Bucs player went down on the edge of the box. Jali stepped up, but Williams was able to stop the shot as the home side failed to extend their lead.
A fierce strike by substitute Mark Mayambela in injury time produced the save of the match from Williams, but Pirates had sealed the result. – Sapa