Milutin Sredojevi, Pirates coach, steered his charges to a slender 1-0 win.
BLOEMFONTEIN – Orlando Pirates defeated Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in an Absa Premiership fixture played at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Sunday afternoon after a goalless first half.
The result saw Pirates move up to second in the PSL standings, just one point off log-leaders Baroka FC, while Celtic now prepare for Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final against Bidvest Wits in Durban.
Thabo Qalinge was in on goal early for Pirates but fired his attempt straight across the face of goal. A few minutes later, Amigo Memela tried his luck from a free-kick, but his effort was dealt with by Celtic goalkeeper Patrick Tigneymb.
The Buccaneers also went close when Thamsanqa Gabuza drove from distance, but the ball flashed wide of the target.
But, while Pirates hogged possession, they found things difficult against an organised Celtic defence. The visitors from Bloemfontein also made sure that, when they had the ball, they were threatening on the counter.
On one such occasion, a flowing move from Celtic needed Pirates defender Justice Chabalala to make a timely intervention to avert the danger. Minutes before the break, the Bloemfontein side had another half-chance, when Lantshene Phalane fired in a low shot which sailed wide.
The Soweto side’s pressure eventually told, though, when they took the lead in the 62nd minute. Musa Nyatama was the instigator of the play that started the attack, and it was the same Nyatama who finished it off with a simple tap-in.
Five minutes later, the Buccaneers could have increased their advantage, but substitute Thabo Rakhale hoofed a volley high and wide.
In the 72nd minute, Pirates decided to tighten things up, in a bid to protect their lead, when Mpho Makola was replaced by the more defensive-minded Issa Sarr.
To Celtic’s credit, they kept trying and were desperately unlucky when Phalane again had an opportunity, and again he shot wide. The Bloemfontein team then took off Given Mashikinya and brought on Tshegofatso Mabaso as they looked for a more attacking impetus to their game.
Pirates hung in, however, to take the three points and sound the alarm to the rest of the PSL that they are serious title-challengers.