Luvuyo Memela stepped up to take the free kick, and delivered a delightful curler to score the opener for Orlando Pirates. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates created some breathing space at the top of the Premiership log after a 2-0 win over Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.

A goal in each half, by Luvuyo Memela and Thembinkosi Lorch respectively, put the Bucs three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns, who are busy with continental duty and have unenviable catch-up games upon their return.

It was a bitter outcome for Leopards as they remained 12th on the log, merely a point from safety.

This encounter, which was expected to produce fireworks from the onset considering what was up for grabs, started at a tortoise’s pace.

Surprisingly, the visitors were the better of the two teams as they combined good passes, but lacked the penetration that would’ve trouble the home side’s defence.

And, unfortunately, that’s how far the Leopards contribution would come as the Buccaneers flipped the script to put themselves in the driving seat, and eventually break the deadlock with virtually their first shot on target.

But it was worth the wait.

Leopards failed to thoroughly deal with a corner kick, as they fouled Happy Jele inside their defensive line.

Memela stepped up to take the free kick, and delivered a delightful curler in Rotshidzwa Muleka’s top corner.

The Ghost would find their voices, as they became the fuel that would drive their team to go in search of a better cushion.

Soon after, Justin Shonga had a chance to reward them for their morale, only for the Zambian to fluff a glorious opportunity into the stands. It was just not Shonga’s day.

On the stroke of the first half, the Pirates talisman was presented with an opportunity to make amends for the failed attempt, but they put the easiest of tap-ins wide of goal.

The Bucs were forced to go into the interval with the slender lead, especially after Karabo Tshepe had given them a scare after his grass-cutter took a huge deflection from Nyasha Munetsi, leaving Sandilands flat-footed, before going wide.

Lidoda Duvha started the second period similarly to the first, but with more purpose – as Thokozani Sekotlong had a dipping in-swinger palmed away by Sandilands.

Tshepe was next to test the waters, but the ever reliable Sandilands was there to save the day yet again.

In the 80th minute, Lorch put the icing on the cake after beating the offside trap to flick past Muleka from a Munetsi cross.

That was before Shonga’s efforts came off the upright, while Mwape Musonda suffered the same fate at the other end.

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