Saturday Oct 22, 2022. 17:33
Orlando Pirates ousted defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 semifinals on Saturday, claiming a 3-0 win (both on the day and on aggregate) at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
This semifinal tie was delicately balanced following a 0-0 draw in Soweto in the first leg earlier this month, but it swung dramatically in the Buccaneers favour early on in the second leg when Kermit Erasmus scored an away goal against his former team.
The Brazilians searched for a way back into the tie for the majority of the game, but were ultimately frustrated by a disciplined defensive performance from the team in black – and their hopes were finally killed off late in the game by a brace from rising star Monnapule Saleng.
Pirates got off to a strong start and claimed the lead as early as the eighth minute, with Saleng doing outstanding work down the right to get around Aubrey Modiba before crossing from the by-line for Erasmus to head home from close range.
The goal was not without controversy, however, as the ball appeared to cross the by-line in the course of Saleng’s run, but this was not picked up by either the referee or their assistant.
Sundowns looked for a quick response but Pirates held firm in defence and were able to produce dangerous moments in transition, though their best counter on 19 minutes saw Deon Hotto forced wide by Grant Kekana.
The Brazilians generally lacked a rhythm and accuracy to their passing, making it easy for the Buccaneers to get numbers behind the ball and frustrate their hosts. ‘Downs were mostly restricted to long-range attempts, such as Teboho Mokoena on 28 minutes and Gaston Sirino shortly before half time, though neither troubled Siyabonga Mpontshane.
The Pirates goalkeeper was finally called into action in injury time before the break, but he comfortably held onto Mokoena’s shot to ensure the game remained 1-0 in favour of the Soweto side at the interval.
Five minutes into the second half, Sundowns made a double change by bringing on Gift Motupa and Neo Maema, in an effort to spark more attacking thrust and creativity respectively. Motupa’s first major involvement arrived on 58 minutes, with a long-range shot which was easily dealt with by Mpontshane.
On the hour mark, Maema had a great chance to level the game after bursting into space in the penalty area, but his effort flashed wide of the target. Pirates also shored up their midfield at this time with the double introduction of Goodman Mosele and Ben Motshwari.
At the midway point of the second half, Modiba let fly but sent a shot over the crossbar, as Sundowns continued to build pressure, but they were unable to truly stretch their opponent’s defence.
And the tie was killed off in the 83rd minute when Pirates doubled their lead on the counter attack, as Zakhele Lepasa did great work down the left flank to tee up Saleng, who saw his shot deflect off the legs of a defender and squirm into the back of the net for 2-0.
‘Downs almost scored a consolation late on when Motupa got on the end of a cross from the right and directed an effort toward goal, but the ball clipped off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick. In addition, the Tshwane side had Modiba sent off late on for a needless second yellow card – encapsulating a day to forget for the Brazilians.
As for Bucs, they added a cherry on top three minutes into added time when Saleng claimed a second goal – beautifully curling a left-footed strike into the top corner of the net – to make it 3-0.
Pirates will go on to face either AmaZulu or Kaizer Chiefs (who meet in the second leg of their semifinal on Sunday) in the MTN8 final on Saturday 5 November at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Orlando Pirates (1) 3 (Erasmus 8’, Saleng 83’ 90+3’)
Pirates won the tie 3-0 on aggregate.
Sundowns: Williams, Mudau, De Reuck, Kekana, Modiba, Mvala (Morena 66’), Mokoena, Mkhulise (Maema 50’), Zwane, Sirino (Motupa 50’), Allende
Pirates: Mpontshane, Monyane, Ndah, Sibia, Maela, Saleng, Makaringe (Mosele 60’), Timm, Hotto (Mako 73’), Ndlondlo (Motshwari 60’), Erasmus (Lepasa 73’)