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Football | Absa Premiership

Isaac Chansa, Kermit Erasmus © Backpagepix

Pirates sink SuperSport to return top

Lucky Lekgwathi scored a winner five minutes into added time to hand Orlando Pirates a dramatic 2-1 win over SuperSport United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night, sending the reigning Absa Premiership champions three points clear at the top of the log.

Earlier strikes from Tokelo Rantie and Sameehg Doutie had left the game locked at 1-1 and Matsatsantsa looked the stronger team until midfielder Edwin Gyimah was sent off with just under 15 minutes to play, handing the initiative to the Buccaneers.

SuperSport made three changes to the starting line-up that did duty in their 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend. Rowen Fernandez returned in goal, Doutie replaced Moffat Mdluli in midfield and the experienced Mabhuti Khenyeza replaced the promising youngster Thabiso Nkoana up front.

Pirates opted for four changes from the run-on side in their 1-1 draw with Ajax: Siyabonga Sangweni replaced the injured Bheki Nzunga at the back, Andile Jali and Isaac Chansa returned in midfield, and Tokelo Rantie replaced Rudolf Bester as Benni McCarthy’s strike partner.

United started strongly and twice threatened to take an early lead. On six minutes Franklin Cale cut inside from the right and fired off a powerful shot from outside the penalty area that forced goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs to palm the ball away for a corner kick.

The set piece then almost resulted in an own goal from Bucs captain Lekgwathi, whose awkward attempt to head away from the danger zone saw the ball bounce back off the crossbar, with Josephs helpless to make a save had it been on target.

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Pirates gradually gained a foothold in the game, though when they broke the deadlock in their favour on 29 minutes it was still somewhat against the run of play. Rantie was left unmarked at the far post and controlled a Tlou Segolela cross from the right before firing a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez.

Five minutes later SuperSport were forced into an early substitution when Kermit Erasmus took a knock to the head in a challenge with Siyabonga Sangweni and was replaced by the veteran Sibusiso Zuma. The score remained 1-0 in favour of the visitors up to the halftime break.

SuperSport continued to look the better team in the second half and just past the hour mark they deservedly drew level. Former Bucs player Doutie scored direct from a free kick near the left by-line with an in-swinging shot that was lofted over the reach of Josephs and went in via the inside of the far post.

With 20 minutes to play McCarthy threatened to put Pirates back into the lead with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box, but Fernandez was equal to the striker’s effort.

Five minutes later, with SuperSport upping the intensity and looking the likelier team to go on and win the game, midfielder Edwin Gyimah was sent off after a coming together with Jali which saw the Ghanaian direct a slap toward his opponent.

Bucs, with a numerical advantage, dominated the rest of the match but failed to create any clear chances. It seemed destined to end a draw, but in the last minute of injury time Lekgwathi somehow squeezed a long-range shot through a crowd of SuperSport defenders and found the bottom corner of the net.

Mamelodi Sundowns could reclaim top spot on the log on goal difference when they face Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday night.

SuperSport United (0) 1 (Doutie 61’)
Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Rantie 29’, Lekgwathi 90+5’)

SuperSport: Fernandez; September, Kekana, Gould, Langerman, Doutie (Gabonamong 79’), Gyimah, Cale, Erasmus (Zuma 34’), Khenyeza (Nkoana 46’), Hartog

Pirates: Josephs; Lekgwathi, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Matlaba, Segolela (Mayambela 83’), Manyisa, Jali, Chansa (Klate 78’), Rantie (Mbuyane 90+2’), McCarthy


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