Pirates move six points clear after FS Stars victory

Orlando Pirates have gone six points clear at the top of the Absa Premiership after defeating Free State Stars 2-1 at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

The top-of-the-log Buccaneers claimed the three points thanks to goals from Musa Nyatama and Justin Shonga, while Ea Lla Koto – in their first match since the tragic passing of Sinethemba Jantjie – remain in the relegation playoff berth but have a game in hand on their rivals.

Pirates dominated possession in the opening quarter of the match, but Stars had the first two efforts on target – long-range shots which warmed the palms of the home side’s goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands but were no real danger.

Ea Lla Koto’s determination to have men behind the ball whenever Pirates had possession meant the home side really struggled to create openings, with forwards Justin Shonga, Thembinkosi Lorch and Augustine Mulenga left frustrated.

The half ended goalless, with Stars the happier of the two teams after succeeding in smothering the title-chasing Buccaneers. However, the visitors gave away a penalty early in the second half when Rooi Mahamutsa tripped up Luvoyo Memela. Musa Nyatama tucked home the spot kick to make it 1-0 to Pirates in the 48th minute.

Six minutes later the hosts doubled their lead. Innocent Maela burst through the Stars defence with a great run and exchange of passes with Justin Shonga, but he was denied by goalkeeper Samkelo Mbambo. However the rebound fell kindly for Shonga, who steered a header home for 2-0.

The third goal was hard to find for the Buccaneers, who saw Marshall Munetsi find the back of the net but have his effort ruled out, while substitute Vincent Pule put a shot wide of the mark with only the ‘keeper to beat in the 70th minute.

Stars pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute when Eleazar Rodgers got on the end of a left-flank cross and powered home a fine header, reducing the deficit and setting up a tense finale. The visitors pressed for an equaliser, but their best chance – a long-range effort from Nyiko Mobbie – was brilliantly turned away by Sandilands.

ORLANDO PIRATES (0) 2 (Nyatama 48’ pen, Shonga 54’)

FREE STATE STARS (0) 1 (Rodgers 82’)