Wits sink Pirates in Durban seven-goal thriller

Bidvest Wits defeated Orlando Pirates 4-3 in an Absa Premiership thriller at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.

The Clever Boys, who claimed the victory thanks to goals from Deon Hotto, Mxolisi Machupu, Cole Alexander and Phatutshedzo Nange, move into second place on the log, while the Buccaneers remain in eighth place.

Wits got off to a flyer and claimed the lead as early as the third minute, with Hotto scoring a superb goal with a strike direct from a free kick. The Namibian’s left-footed strike left goalkeeper Doris Jelle completely flat-footed.

Fortune Makaringe nearly brought Pirates level 10 minutes later with a turn and shot from the edge of the box which required an excellent save from Wits goalkeeper Brandon Petersen.

The Buccaneers enjoyed the majority of possession for the remainder of the first half but seemed to lack the cutting edge in the final third to really threaten the hosts’ defence.

However, in injury time before the interval, Tshegofatso Mabasa showed his class with a brilliant volleyed strike which gave Petersen no chance whatsoever and ensured the score was locked at 1-1 as the teams went to the changing rooms.

Petersen, who sustained an injury in a collision in the first half, was substituted at halftime, with former Pirates shot-stopper Brighton Mhlongo replacing him at the start of the second stanza.

Wits reclaimed the lead on 51 minutes, with Hotto winning possession back in midfield before driving up the field and teeing up Mxolisi Machupu, who fired home a beautiful shot to put his side 2-1 up.

Yet parity was restored just six minutes later, with Bucs putting together a fine passing move which saw Frank Mhango square for Musa Nyatama, who stabbed a low shot past Mhlongo to make it 2-2.

The spectacular goals kept coming for Wits, with midfielder Cole Alexander crashing home a long-range volley in the 69th minute to put the Clever Boys into the lead for a third time. This strike was a sure contender for goal of the season.

Pirates pushed hard for another equaliser, and even drew a great save out of Mhlongo in the 73rd minute, but Wits looked the likelier scorers on the counter attack and should have claimed a fourth with just over 10 minutes to play when Zitha Macheke was presented with a glaring chance but dragged a shot wide.

The fourth goal for Wits arrived in the 82nd minute when Haashim Domingo provided a no-look pass to allow substitute Phatutshedzo Nange to fire a low shot past Delle, but Bucs hit back almost immediately when Mhango’s effort hit Mhlongo and bounced over the line to make it 4-3 on the night.

Pirates will return to league action next Saturday with a match at home to Cape Town City, while Wits’ CAF club competition commitments mean they will only be back in domestic action on October 1 with a match away to Chippa United.

Bidvest Wits (1) 4 (Hotto 3’, Machupu 51’, Alexander 69’, Nange 82’)

Orlando Pirates (1) 3 (Mabasa 45+1’, Nyatama 57’, Mhango 84’)

Wits: Petersen (Mhlongo 46’), Macheke, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Doutie (Domingo 46’), Alexander, Monare, Hotto, Dzvukamanja (Nange 80’), Machupu

Pirates: Delle, Nyauza, Jele, Maela, Ndlovu (Monyane 55’), Nyatama, Mlambo (Mhango 54’), Makaringe (Dlamini 77’), Lorch, Mulenga, Mabasa