Orlando Pirates’ title dreams were ended after a 1-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon
Orlando Pirates had a better start, especially in the opening 10 minutes of the game and had Sundowns on the back foot as they used their Daine Klate and Kethokwakhe Masukua well to attack their opponents, but Alje Schut and Wayne Arendse were equal to the task.
The visitors replied immediately and completed a few passes from the middle of the park and it was Hlompho Kekana and Teko Modise who pushed Sundowns forward.
Richard Henyekane should have done better in the 18th minute when he was beautifully picked by Nyasha Mushekwi outside the box, but the former Arrows striker blasted his shot over the bar, to the frustration of coach Pitso Mosimane.
Collins Mbesuma nearly opened the scoring a few minutes later, but his shot lacked power as Wayne Sandilands made a comfortable save.
Pirates caught the Sundowns defence napping towards the half-hour mark and Oupa Manyisa came close to giving the home side the lead, but his shot came off the crossbar.
Mbesuma was again allowed space outside the Sundowns’ box, but his shot went inches wide with Sandilands well beaten.
Sundowns started pushing forward again and forced a corner towards the end of the first half and Arendse’s header from the resultant corner came off the crossbar, as the referee blew for halftime.
Mbesuma towed Sundowns defenders in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Zambian international opted to use his left foot when he was supposed to use his right to score.
Pirates nearly grabbed the lead in the 54th minute and it was Mbesuma who forced a great save out of Sandilands as the home side looked very much in control.
Sundowns immediately introduced Jabulani Shongwe for Nyasha Mushekwi as he looked to add more bodies in the midfield where Pirates were dictating the play.
The visitors caught Pirates on counter towards the 70th minute, but the pass was too strong as Senzo Meyiwa rushed off his line to make a block.
Both teams looked unlikely to score as fatigue was slowly gripping into the players. Happy Jele was lucky not to have got a yellow card after a rough tackle on Thami Sangweni and it was Teko Modise who directed his shot straight to the Pirates’ wall.
Mosimane then introduced Katlego Mphela for Henyekane as he looked to snatch the winner in the dying minutes of the game, but the Pirates defence held firm.Sundowns then took the lead on stoppage time when Schut met Shongwe’s cross to make it 1-0, as they walked away with maximum points at the Orlando Stadium.