Full time: Pirates 1-1 Celtic
Date: 5 March 2019
Venue: Orlando Stadium
Orlando Pirates have risen to the top of the Absa Premiership standings despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Bloemfontein Celtic at the Orlando Stadium on Tuesday.
Both teams had early forays into the danger area, with Celtic’s Mzwanele Mahashe and Pirates skipper Happy Jele both doing some sterling defensive work in the early minutes.
Pirates dominated possession and attempted to use the width of the pitch to their advantage, but Celtic’s defence was impressively disciplined and organised, denying the hosts any notable chances in the opening half hour.
The Buccaneers’ first notable effort on goal arrived in the 33rd minute when Vincent Pule cut inside off the right flank and fired off a long-range shot, but Patrick Tignyemb was on hand to make a comfortable save.
Celtic claimed the lead very much against the run of play on 37 minutes, with defender Tshepo Rikhotso stabbing home a shot from close range after Pirates were unable to clear their lines from a corner kick.
Pirates were unable to summon anything notable in response up to half time, with their only attempt a long-range shot from Thembinkosi Lorch which skewed wide of the target.
The hosts looked much livelier in the early minutes of the second half, with Shonga’s flicked header from Pule’s cross forcing a sharp save from Tignyemb.
Yet the team in green and white should have doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute, with Lucky Baloyi somehow missing from close range when he was beautifully teed up by Menzi Masuku.
Pirates created a great chance to equalise in the 74th minute when Lorch burst through the defence, but he was denied at close range by Tignyemb, who managed to deflect the attacker’s effort onto the outside of his left-hand post.
The Soweto giants didn’t have to wait much longer for their equaliser, with Justin Shonga opening space in the penalty area with some great footwork, which allowed substitute Luvoyo Memela to sweep home a low shot for 1-1 in the 80th minute.
Pirates laid siege to the Celtic goal in what remained of the game, but were unable to find another crack in the defence of the Bloemfontein team. Yet, thanks to Mamelodi Sundowns’ loss at Cape Town City, Bucs rose to the top of the standings.
Here’s how they lined up:
Pirates: 30. Sandilands, 4. Jele, 21. Ndengane, 23. Maela, 44. Mabaso, 14. Nyatama, 45. Pule, 7. Mahachi, 3. Lorch, 12. Shonga, 17. Mulenga
Subs: 16. Mabokgwane, 36. Da Silva, 20. Mlambo, 38. Mahlonoko, 15. Qalinge, 11. Memela, 31. Gabuza
Celtic: 30. Tignyemb, 19. Sam, 38. Mahashe, 22. Rikhotso, 10. Mabena, 2. Tani, 12. Maema, 18. Mashikinya, 50. Masuku, 8. Phalane, 35. Baloyi
Subs: 34. Dambe, 17. Mabasa, 3. Pfumbidzai, 11. Potsane, 6. Kobedi, 4. Dlamini, 13. Letsoalo