Gabadinho Mhango nets winner as Pirates see off AmaZulu netted the all-important goal as Orlando Pirates clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over AmaZulu at Orlando Stadium on Thursday evening.
After a muted opening ten-minute spell, in which AmaZulu were forced to bring on Butholezwe Ncube for the injured Makhehlene Makhaula, the match sprang to life in the 11th minute after Mhango saw his right-footed shot from the right side of the box saved in the bottom-left corner by AmaZulu keeper Veli Mothwa.
Mhango again went close five minutes later as he let fly from close range, but he could not keep his shot down as the ball flew harmlessly over the bar.
AmaZulu eventually hit back on the 20-minute mark with a series of chances in quick succession. Still, former Pirates man Lehlohonolo Majoro saw his goal-bound effort blocked, with team-mate Augustine Mulenga firing wide from the resulting corner.
They again threatened to break the deadlock a few moments later, but the chance came to nothing as Siyethemba Sithebe fired narrowly wide of the right post from outside the area.
However, the hosts continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, with Nkanyiso Zungu, Mhango and Thembinkosi Lorch all squandering chances later in the half.
And, with neither side able to fashion the all-important breakthrough, the scoreline would remain locked at 0-0.
There was plenty of action to come after the break as the high-flying duo traded blows, with Pirates’ Vincent Pule forcing Mothwa into action in the 49th minute, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Majoro was unlucky not to score after hitting the crossbar with a header from the centre of the box.
AmaZulu redoubled their efforts after that missed chance, sensing that a goal could be theirs for the taking.
However, Luvuyo Memela was denied by Pirates keeper Siyabonga Mpontshane in the 65th minute before Tapelo Nyongo headed wide of the right-hand post from the centre of the danger area.
And the visitors were made to rue those missed opportunities as Pirates went on to claim the lead on 76 minutes, Mhango finding the top-left corner with a sumptuous free-kick after earning a free-kick just outside the area.
AmaZulu briefly threatened to draw level a few minutes later as Mbongeni Gumede dragged his shot wide of the left post before Mpontshane denied Sithebe an equaliser in the 87th minute.