Orlando Pirates are now three points clear at the top of the PSL log after a 2-0 victory over Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Buccaneers went into the clash tied on 44 points with defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the table, but slightly ahead – thanks to superior goal difference, having leapfrogged them through a 1-0 victory over Bidvest Wits last Saturday.
After what was a lethargic performance in their last outing, the Buccaneers looked re-energised in their bid to pull clear of the chasing pack, but squandered a few opportunities early on.
An early set piece from an attacking position went a begging as Luvuyo Memela’s ball into the middle found keeper Rotshidzwa Muleka’s gloves.
The winger had another opportunity from a deadball situation in the eighth minute but his tame effort did not make it past the Leopard wall.
He continued being a menace, even in open play, as he whipped in a dangerous ball into the box for an unmarked Marshall Munetsi, who failed to direct it into the net.
Pirates were awarded another free kick inside the D the 22nd minute, and it proved to be a decisive moment as Memela made no mistake in slotting it well past a diving Muleka to open the scoring.
The Buccaneers had more opportunities to extend their lead, but were not able to convert those, with Justin Shonga the main culprit.
The Zambian international found himself with a clear shot at goal, but sent his effort over the bar, before he was found by a cross from Thembinkosi Lorch in the dying moments of the first half – again failing to find the net.
The second half featured more of the same as opportunity after opportunity went unconverted, with the usually reliable Lorch one of the main culprits.
However, the 25-year-old was eventually rewarded for his persistence as it was via his head that the hosts doubled their lead, giving them a vital – yet unconvincing – victory at a crucial stage of the league campaign.