Kaizer Chiefs claimed a much-needed 1-0 win over Soweto derby rivals Orlando Pirates in a DStv Premiership clash at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Amakhosi will revel in the victory, but the Buccaneers were very much their own worst enemies in the match – playing the final 30 minutes with a man’s disadvantage and scoring a completely avoidable own goal late on to decide the outcome.
The result not only eases some of the pressure on Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane, but allows the Glamour Boys to draw level on points with their rivals (though the teams remain in fifth and third place respectively, with Richards Bay in between).
Pirates enjoyed more of the possession early in the game, but Chiefs looked dangerous whenever they had the chance to move forward on transition – especially through the pace and movement of Christian Saile and Ashley Du Preez.
One of the foremost examples of this arrived in the 25th minute when Du Preez raced free on a counter but saw his low shot turned away at the near post by Pirates goalkeeper Sipho Chaine.
That chance seemed to further boost Chiefs’ belief and they began to string together some promising attacks, though Pirates nearly broke the deadlock on 39 minutes when Thembinkosi Lorch let fly from long range and forced Brandon Petersen into a finger-tip save.
The interval arrived with the teams locked at 0-0, though Chiefs would have felt that they had the better of the first 45 minutes.
The first chance of the second stanza went the way of the Buccaneers, with Lorch driving a long-range volley off target in the 51st minute, and the team in black generally looked more coherent in their attack after the break.
However, the hour mark saw the game swing in favour of Chiefs when Pirates defender Innocent Maela was shown a straight red card, having tripped up Saile as the last man just outside the penalty area.
Pirates responded by bolstering their defence and midfield with the introductions of Olisa Ndah and Ben Motshwari, and did well to ensure Chiefs were not able to build up a huge amount of attacking pressure.
The Amakhosi were guilty of a lack of pace and intensity in their play once they had a man’s advantage, though the introduction of Caleb Bimenyimana gave them another avenue of attack and the Burundian striker flicked a header just wide in the 78th minute.
On 86 minutes Chiefs’ Du Preez almost won the match in spectacular fashion, meeting a loose ball in the box with a powerful half-volley, but the effort flashed just over the crossbar.
The match looked set for a goalless stalemate, but in the penultimate minute of regulation time a long ball from Edmilson Dove put Ndah in a tricky situation and his indecisive header looped over Chaine for an own goal, deciding the derby in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
The Soweto giants will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with Pirates facing Swallows FC on Friday 3 March, while Chiefs will visit Richards Bay on Saturday 4 March. -SuperSport