Orlando Pirates made it a day to remember for their fans with a convincing 3-1 league win over arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The first half proved to be a tight affair and the score was locked at 1-1 after Thembinkosi Lorch’s opener had been cancelled out by Leonardo Castro’s header shortly afterwards.
The game was effectively won with two second half goals in 25 minutes from substitute Luvuyo Memela as Pirates’ renaissance under coach Milutin Sredojevic gathers steam, the Sea Robbers just four points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, while the pressure continues to mount on his opposite number Steve Komphela.
Chiefs had a couple of half chances early on as Siphiwe Tshabalala had a shot blocked by Happy Jele before Ryan Moon headed over the bar.
But instead it was Pirates who struck first blood when Willard Katsande’s clearance fell to Lorch just outside the area, the Pirates winger ghosting his way in to the box before squeezing a low angled shot in at the far post on 20 minutes.
But the lead was only to last seven minutes as Amakhosi hit back with a goal from Castro, the Colombian expertly glancing in a header from a Tshabalala free kick.
The Glamour Boys went on to enjoy some good passages of play in the remainder of the first half, but couldn’t find a way to penetrate the Bucs defence and were unable to create many openings, apart from a 43rd minute effort from Castro which was well-saved by Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Sredojevic made a half-time change with Memela replacing Bernard Morrison and it paid immediate dividends in spectacular style as the substitute beat Itumeleng Khune at the near post with his first play of the game, following some good work by Musa Nyatama as the Buccaneers went 2-1 up in the 47th minute.
Castro had the chance to level the game eight minutes later, but sent a powerful header straight at Mpontshane, although at the other end, Pirates were looking good for another goal as a Memela free kick deflected against the post before Chiefs defender Daniel Cardoso sent a clearance inches wide of his own net.
The team in black had the third goal in the 73rd minute, Memela the man again as he fired the ball into the roof of the net from close range in clinical fashion after an assist from Justin Shonga.
Amakhosi rallied hard in the final 10 minutes, but couldn’t score as Philani Zulu headed over the bar and Bernard Parker was denied by Mpontshane.
At the same time though, Pirates had a couple of great chances to add a fourth, and Mthokozisi Dube should really have done better when clean through on goal in the 88th minute.
But it mattered little as Pirates closed out the game, a first derby win in the league for either side after four previous draws. Chiefs remain third for now, eight points off the summit.