Result: Orlando Pirates 1-0 AmaZulu
Date: 27 May 2021
Venue: Orlando Stadium
Orlando Pirates kept their hopes of finishing among the continental spots alive with a 1-0 win over high-flying AmaZulu on Thursday night.
Pirates made five changes from the heavy loss to Raja Casablanca, as shot-stopper Siyabonga Mpontshane, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Ben Motshwari, Nkanyiso Zungu and Gabadinho Mhango were all recalled.
Usuthu got off to a rough start after Makhehlene Makhaula was forced off with an injury in the seventh minute and replaced by Butholezwe Ncube, who nearly opened the scoring with a headed effort after 16 minutes.
Benni McCarthy's charges got into the game after that and were threatening on counter-attacks but the Buccaneers were resilient at the back did well to stifle any attacks.
That proved to be the trend for the remainder of the first half, with both goalkeepers enjoying a relatively quiet first half.
Zinnbauer made a change at half-time, with Vincent Pule replacing Deon Hotto on the left wing and the former came close to breaking the deadlock four minutes later with a half-volley that forced a save out of Mothwa.
With the game opening up, Lehlohonolo Majoro was unlucky not to give Usuthu the lead ten minutes inside the second stanza with a free header on the far side of the box that came off the top side of the crossbar after a cross by Thabo Qalinge.
The Buccaneers made a triple change on the hour-mark for fresh legs, as Fortune Makaringe replaced Zungu, Abel Mabaso came on for Thabang Monare and Kabelo Dlamini replaced Thembinkosi Lorch.
Mhango eventually broke the deadlock for Pirates in the last 14 minutes with a dipping free-kick from just outside the box that found the top corner, giving Mothwa no chance.
Pule came close to getting the second goal for the hosts after going clear from a counter-attack but his goal-bound shot was saved by Mothwa, however, Pirates held on to reduce the gap behind second-placed AmaZulu to four points with a game in hand.
Here's how they started:
Pirates: 40. Mpontshane, 5. Nyauza, 23. Maela, 29. Mako, 8. Ndlovu, 21. Zungu, 16. Monare, 6. Motshwari, 11. Hotto, 17. Mhango, 3. Lorch
Subs: 30. Sandilands, 17. Jooste, 19. Sam, 4. Jele, 44. Mabaso, 32. Mntambo, 15. Makaringe, 45. Pule, 18. Dlamini
AmaZulu: 44. Mothwa, 5. Sikhakhane, 17. M.Gumede, 46. Kewuti, 27. Xoki, 8. Makhaula, 34. Maduna, 10. Sithebe, 20. Majoro, 47. Qalinge, 30. Mulenga.
Subs: 43. Boshoff, 5. Mzava, 39. Mgwazela, 29. Mabiliso, 23. Mlambo, 6. Ncube, 15. Memela, 7. Ntuli, 9. Mthembu.
There are just five match days left of the DStv Premiership season and we are getting closer to finding out who will be relegated and the final top eight standings.