10-man Pirates hold on to tame Leopards

Cape Town – Orlando Pirates recorded a deserved 2-1 win over Absa Premiership newcomers Black Leopards on Tuesday, despite playing almost an hour with just 10 men.

Orlando Pirates almost made a dream start when Ben Motshwari's long-range shot dropped at the feet of Pule in the opening minute, but Rotshidzwa Muleka denied him from close range.

Black Leopards moved the ball around well, although the visitors continued to fashion good openings and went close again on six minutes.

Thabo Matlaba was released down the right flank and he squared the ball for Paseka Mako, whose poor touch presented a chance for Thamsanqa Gabuza, but the striker dragged a shot wide at the back post from six yards out.

Gabuza should have done better when Pule played him into space on 10 minutes, but he blasted wide of the right post from 18 yards out. The Pirates marksman threatened again five minutes later as he poked the ball wide of the near post from inside the six-yard box on the left after latching onto Happy Jele's lofted pass.

Pule wasn't far away from finding the top-left corner of the net with a curling free-kick from 20 yards out on the left that just cleared the bar on 25 minutes, while the forward saw his volley from eight yards out parried away by Muleka moments later and Gabuza's acrobatic effort on the rebound was deflected onto the roof of the goal.

After Motshwari fizzed a first-time shot from 22 yards out past the right post on 32 minutes, the Buccaneers finally made the breakthrough two minutes later.

Gabuza was sent clear down the left flank and his low cross came off Ndou's shin to fly past Muleka. The goal led to bizarre scenes as Gabuza flung his shirt into the crowd before walking down the tunnel.

The Soweto giants played the remainder of the half with just 10 men, and they were almost made to pay on 39 minutes as Tumleo Khutlang dragged a left-footed shot wide of the right post from the edge of the area.

Gabuza didn't appear for the start of the second half, but eventually made his way back to the bench aided by coaching staff with ice strapped to his upper leg. The referee immediately stopped play and marched over to the player before issuing two yellow cards for his actions and a subsequent red.

Mwape Musonda attempted to bring the hosts back into the contest with an overhead-kick from 18 yards out that missed to the right of the goal on 58 minutes.

However, Bucs doubled their lead seven minutes later with a well-taken goal by Pule, who ran onto Xolani Mlambo's neat ball over the top and fired a first-time shot past Muleka from 12 yards out.

Lidoda Duvha managed to pull one back on 70 minutes, though, courtesy a stunner from Mhlongo, who smashed a volley into the top-left corner of the net from 18 yards out on the right after his initial shot had been blocked.

Fine goalkeeping from Muleka prevented Pule from registering a brace six minutes later as he raced off his line to save at the forward's feet on the edge of the box.

Leopards went in search of an equaliser in the closing stages, but Pirates held on to claim their second league win of the season.

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