Pirates demolish Chiefs to keep title hopes alive

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Thembinkosi Lorch of Orlando Pirates celebrates goal during the 2017/18 Absa Premiership football match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City, Soweto on 03 March 2018. Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The gloss on the Soweto derby was restored after Orlando Pirates convincingly beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 in a lively match that probably ended Chiefs lofty ambitions of dispatching Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Absa Premiership table.

The win, courtesy of Luvuyo Memela’s incredible second half brace, saw the Buccaneers restoring the four-point gap between them and Sundowns with seven matches to go.

Memela first scored with his first touch in the 46th minute after he was introduced for Bernard Morrison at the start of the second stanza.

The nippy winger completed his brace in the 74th minute after getting a good cross from Justin Shonga, the Zambian striker who produced a man-of-the-match performance as he troubled Chiefs throughout the game.

Pirates had looked good in winning the match when they stylishly took the lead via Thembinkosi Lorch’s superb strike in the 21st minute.

Chiefs, though, refused to succumb to their trailing, their pressing game ensuring they find an equaliser through Leonardo Castro’s header off Siphiwe Tshabalala’s free kick in the 28th minute.

Castro was in fact the hungrier of Amakhosi attackers as he constantly bombarded Siyabonga Mpontshane with some dangerous pot shots in the first half.

Mpontshane only started the match in the Pirates goals because of a last minute knee injury to Bucs number one keeper Jackson Mabokgwane.

The game swung from end to end at breathtaking pace throughout the 90 minutes, but it was Pirates who started strongly in the second 45 minute after being inspired by Memela’s lead.

Were it not for Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune’s couple of stupendous saves, Pirates would have reached the 60th minute with a bigger lead.

Bucs coach Milutin Sredojevic limited Bucs attack in the first half with his decision to leave Memela on the bench, preferring to slot in Gladwin Shitolo in his three men defence.

Sredojevic was hoping to effectively utilise Mthokozisi Dube and Innocent Maela on the wings but their tracks were well covered by Chiefs wingbacks Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Philani Zulu on the flanks.

Going into this match Pirates were always fancied to have an upper hand, simply because their penetration in the last third had been by far more convincing this year than Chiefs.

Pirates technical staff must have done something to up the team’s game up front, as they looked a lot better this year, scoring 18 goals in eight matches in which six (including yesterday) have been victories that cemented their second spot on the log behind Sundowns.

Contributing 11 of those 18 goals (including yesterday’s) were Bucs most on-form players, Lorch, Shonga with three each and Memela, whose brace yesterday was the fifth he had scored this year.

Chiefs had come to their meeting with Bucs with only 19 goals to show in their 22 matches, their defence, courtesy of their inspirational captain Khune, the only shining light as it had conceded only 12 goals, making it the best in the league before Bucs humiliated them yesterday.

Of late, Chiefs have been bailed out by Moon, the 21-year-old striker who only started featuring in Amakhosi’s starting XI this year after starting the season in the doctor’s room due to injuries.

Moon, who had a quite game in his first derby, had scored four of Chiefs six goals in seven league matches this year before their encounter against Pirates on Saturday.