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Pretoria - Two first-half goals from Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Takesure Chinyama, coupled with a late Sifiso Myeni strike, secured Orlando Pirates a comfortable 3-1 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns in a Premiership clash at a packed Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Wednesday evening.
The win for Pirates ensured the Soweto side climbed the table into second position, while Sundowns were left rooted to the bottom of the table, after Amazulu's 1-0 win over the University of Pretoria lifted the coastal side out of last position.
The Buccaneers were without injured midfielder Andile Jali, who is likely to be out of action for three weeks with an ankle injury.
Pirates headed into the encounter on the back of a disappointing Telkom Knockout exit to Bloemfontein Celtic in a penalty shootout after squandering a 3-1 lead last week.
Sundowns meanwhile, had marched into the semifinals of the cup competition with a 2-0 victory over Amazulu.
The Brazilians were quick off the mark and were in with their first chance as early as the fifth minute when they were awarded a free-kick just outside the Pirates area, but Teko Modise's effort sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
The hosts kept up their frantic pace throughout the opening minutes and placed the visitors under immense pressure, but Pirates opened the scoring against the run of play in the 13th minute.
A long ball over the top from the Pirates’ defence found Takesure Chinyama deep in the Sundowns area, before the Zimbabwean striker muscled his way past Dutch defender Alje Schut and played a square ball across the area, with an unmarked Mbuyane slotting home past goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.
The hosts, shocked by the opener, went back on the offensive as the action swung from end-to-end, with skipper Modise rocketing an effort at goal from outside the Pirates area, forcing a superb diving save from keeper Senzo Meyiwa, who parried the ball over the bar.
Having taken the early lead, Pirates struggled to threaten for the rest of the half, while at the other end, the Brazilians were left frustrated by a lack of clinical finishing and a resilient Buccaneers defence.
With the half-time break approaching, a quick counter-attack, orchestrated by the Pirates' midfield, led Myeni to find Chinyama, who turned goalscorer, curling a solid strike past Sandilands, who had no chance against the striker's effort, which hit the upright on its way into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The hosts came out into the second period looking to spark a comeback, with Eleazar Rodgers coming close in the 47th minute, but Meyiwa thwarted the striker's effort, making a solid save low down to deny the Brazilians their first of the match.
Sundowns came back for more shortly after, but Jabulani Shongwe's incisive strike rattled the crossbar, to once again deny Downs, while Pirates remained under pressure and bound within their own half.
With time running out, Pirates completed their fifth league win this season, courtesy of Myeni, who thundered in his shot with eight minutes left after a pass from Patrick Phungwayo found him unmarked, before the midfielder beat Sandilands for his second goal of the season.
Edward Mnqele then provided the consolation strike for Johan Neeskens' side, six minutes later, after the replacement forward beat Meyiwa with two minutes remaining in regulation time. - Sapa