Orlando Pirates made a statement of intent at the Peter Mokaba stadium with a clinical and inspired victory over Black Leopards
Orlando Pirates put in an outstanding second half performance to rout Black Leopards 4-0 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night.
Collins Mbesuma began an inspired period for the visitors with the first goal in the 47th minute followed by Thandani Ntshumayelo’s first goal for the Buccaneers in the 59th.
Daine Klate's volley at the near post made the score 3-0 in the 63rd minute and Happy Jele scored a comeback header to round off Pirate's superb outing in Polokwane.
Leopards had only beaten Pirates once in their history of playing in the top-flight and were hoping to use home advantage in order to overthrow the Buccaneers once again. They brought in Rodney Ramagalela on the left wing in order to create more speed on the counter-attack.
Pirates started the game seven points behind Kaizer Chiefs and were looking to close the gap on the league leaders.
Roger de Sa did not bring back Benni McCarthy into the fold as Pirates continue to struggle with many key players on the injury list. Collins Mbesuma started for the Buccaneers as De Sa kept faith in the Zambian powerhouse.
Played in heavy rain, the game was certainly affected by the wet and slippery conditions as many players found it difficult to move freely on the pitch.
Dane Klate was the architect of the first chance for Pirates with a low cutback which found Oupa Manyisa unmarked in the box. But Manyisa’s timing of his strike was awry and Azwindini Maphaha was able block the shot with ease.
A Black Leopards counter-attack almost caught the Buccaneers off guard, as Joshua Obaje rounded an onrushing Senzo Meyiwa and fired towards the open goal, but Lucky Lekgwathi denied the effort with a vital block.
Maphaha was superb once again in the dying minutes of the first stanza, as Khetowakhe Masuku powered a drive towards goal after running onto a great low pass from Klate. Maphaha was able to perform an instinctive save and somehow kept the fizzing shot out of the net.
Leopards finished the first forty-five the happier side, as they denied Pirates an opening goal and also started applying some of their own pressure towards the end of the half.
But Leopards could not deny Collins Mbesuma two minutes into the second half. The Zambian received a fortuitous pass from Sifisio Myeni which was diverted into his path off a Black Leopards defender.
However, there was nothing fortuitous about the finish by Mbesuma as he unleashed a left-footed strike into the top right corner of the goal. Maphaha could not provide another save as the ball slammed into the net with immense force.
Pirate’s looked to find their second goal to seal the win and Thandani Ntshumayelo did not disappoint with a rasping drive from 30 yards out in the 59th minute.
The midfielder received a short corner from Myeni and decided to fire in an attempt from the edge of the area. His unstoppable shot beat Maphapa for pace at his near post and Pirates were 2-0 up.
Minutes later Klate continued the rout with a fine volley after latching onto a deep cross by Tlou Segolega. Pirates were dominating proceedings and with a quarter of the match to go, more goals seemed inevitable.
Klate turned provider with a corner-kick as Happy Jele, returning from along injury lay-off, was first to the ball in the area and scored the fourth and final goal with a strong header which could not be stopped by Leopard's defenders on the goal line. It was Jele's first touch of the game.
The game ended 4-0 and Pirates continue the chase of Kaizer Chiefs, but the Buccaneers still trail their rivals by four points.