Kaizer Chiefs stay top of the table with a three point lead as they come from behind to draw with Pirates at Soccer City on Saturday afternoon
Kaizer Chiefs came from behind to force a draw in Saturday’s Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates and keep up their three point lead at the helm of the Absa Premiership.
Lehlohonolo Majoro scored an equaliser just on the hour mark after former Chiefs goal hero Collins Mbesuma had given Pirates the half-time lead.
A crowd of 87 352 at Soccer City in Johannesburg watched a pulsating match with chances at either end, which in the end delivered the right result with honours even.
But Chiefs will be more pleased with the outcome as they look likely to take a healthy lead into the mid-season break later this month.
Mbesuma’s goal came from a superb straight pass upfield from Andile Jali in the 20th minute, allowing the Zambian international to show his pace and strength as he held off the attention of defender Tefu Mashamaite and struck across the goal to beat Itumeleng Khune.
The pass showed brilliant insight from Jali, playing his first game back in a month after twisting a knee in their Telkom Knockout quarter-final defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic.
Mbesuma had scored against Khune for Zambia in an international against Bafana Bafana at the same venue less than a month ago but he would have savoured even more his left footed finish against his former club - his third goal against Chiefs in as many seasons.
Sifiso Myeni’s inswinging free kick seven minutes presented a chance for a second goal but evaded both the Pirates attackers and the Chiefs defence, highlighting the frailty at the back of the league leaders.
But Pirates, too, looked static at the back, notably at set pieces, and Daine Klate cleared off the line in the 30th minute to deny Chiefs an equaliser.
Chiefs kept dominating possession through the first half and Siphiwe Tshabalala’s 35th minute shot looked goal bound before a sharp save from Senzo Meyiwa, who banged his head against the upright as he rose to tip the ball over the top.
But it was Pirates who finished the half the strongest as Mbesuma found the net three minutes later but was ruled offside by veteran World Cup linesman Enock Molefe.
Then Klate forced a good save out of Khune after Siboniso Gaxa was caught out of position and from the resultant corner Siyabonga Sangweni should have netted when the ball fell fortuitously off his chest but he blasted over the crossbar.
Majoro equalised in the 59th minute at the end of a swift passing movement involving Tshabalala and George Lebese and saw him finally get the better of defender Siyabonga Sangweni from a tight angle.
It was his eighth league goal of the season and the 200th for Chiefs in derby history.
Benni McCarthy came on with 20 minutes left for Mbesuma and immediately Kingston Nkhatha was brought on to bolster Chiefs’ bid to stage a comeback win.
McCarthy tried a spectacular overhead effort eight minutes from time to remind us of his potential even if he is now 35 and just returned from injury.But it was Nkhatha who might have emerged the real hero missing out on a chance to squeeze home an inviting ball as he arrived just seconds too late with an outstretched foot on the Pirates’ goal line.