Pirates maintain cup dominance

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Scores were locked at 1-all at the end of regulation time after Chiefs restored the stalemate in the second half in reply to Pirates’ first-half goal in the first Soweto Derby of the season.

Fresh from their Africa campaign, Pirates took the initiative from the outset and made several sorties deep into Chiefs’ half but their early efforts came to nought mainly as a result of over-elaboration in the striking zone. Consequently, there were no shots on the Chiefs’ goal in the opening 10 minutes despite the territorial advantage.

Chiefs seemed content to absorb the early pressure and their rear-guard seemed sufficiently composed to contain Pirates’ moves just ahead of the fringes of the penalty area.

Around the 15th minute, Pirates’ adopted a far more direct approach upfront and they looked threatening but Chiefs’ goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse averted pending danger with a noteworthy save from a Thabo Rakhale strike.

However, Pirates’ Sifiso Myeni stunned the 79 000 crowd in the 19th minute with exceptional ability from a dead-ball situation when he scored the opening goal with a curling free-kick (1-0).

There was no immediate response from Chiefs who continued to keep their challenge alive with counter-attacks from deep options. However, Chiefs opted to pump several balls into the Pirates penalty area where the defence had little difficulty in coping with the speculative plays.

Chiefs picked up cohesion as the match wound its course to the halftime break and their efforts may have paid off in the 40th minute but David Zulu shot fractionally wide after an excellent feed from George Lebese, at a time when the Pirates’ defence were guilty of ball-watching in front of goal.

When the second half got under way Chiefs showed a far greater sense of urgency and their short-ball game was stretching the Pirates defence to the limits. Chiefs enjoyed several half-chances and around the 50th minute they forced two corners in quick succession but failed to make a breakthrough.

Their crowning moment, however, came just after the hour mark when a fast-paced sortie into the Pirates’ penalty area worked its magic as substitute Siphelele Mthembu ranged up down the right flank where he drew the defence before laying on for Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyane who made no mistake with an angled low drive (1-1).

In the best of Soweto Derby traditions, there was no shortage of thrills and spills as the match continued to its close with both defences surviving close shaves although Chiefs generally had more of the play at the end, and only just failed to secure a come-from-behind win.

As a result, the honours in the fifth edition of the Carling Black Label Cup had to be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out format. - ANA

Original source: Pirates maintain cup dominance

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