Mhango’s brace takes Pirates to the 2nd spot

A first-half brace from Frank Mhango saw Orlando Pirates defeat Chippa United 2-1 in a highly-entertaining clash on Saturday evening to move into the top three of the Absa Premiership.

The result at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium saw the Buccaneers move to third place on 36 points from 20 matches – nine adrift of leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who have played a game less. The Chilli Boys, meanwhile, remain in 12th place on 22 points.

The teams traded chances inside the opening 10 minutes, with Chippa’s Augustine Kwem testing Wayne Sandilands with a low shot, while Pirates’ Frank Mhango saw his low drive from a tight angle tipped onto the post by Veli Mothwa at the other end.

The Buccaneers claimed the lead in the 12th minute, with Mhango driving home a penalty to make it 1-0 to the visitors. The spot kick was awarded for a foul from Gregory Damons on Innocent Maela in a sweeping counter attack for the away side.

Pirates’ lead was doubled in the 20th minute, with Mhango showing great composure in the box to pick up a loose ball, make space and score with a low shot. The chance was created after Mothwa couldn’t hold onto Abel Mabaso’s low cross from the right by-line.

Pirates were in full flow by this point, but a lapse of concentration at the back allowed Chippa to halve the deficit in the 29th minute. Silas Maziya won the ball high up the field and fed Kwem, who did brilliantly to turn two defenders and beat Sandilands at his near post with a well-placed shot.

The score remained 2-1 in favour of the visitors to halftime, though the end-to-end nature of the game meant there were plenty of chances for more goals before the break – especially for Pirates, though they found Mothwa a tough man to beat.

Chippa made a change at the start of the second half, replacing William Twala with Ruzaigh Gamildien – the attacker nearly made it 2-2 within a few minutes of his introduction, forcing Sandilands into an excellent save with a volley from the edge of the box, before a deflected effort a short while later which flashed just wide of the target.

Pirates should have reclaimed a two-goal lead just past the hour mark when Luvoyo Memela put Mhango in behind the hosts’ defence, but the Malawian’s attempt to dink the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper didn’t get the better of the excellent Mothwa.

The Buccaneers went into game-management mode in the final 15 minutes or so, looking to slow down the pace and keep possession. It proved an effective tactic in quelling Chippa’s threat and Pirates were able to secure a fifth straight league victory.

The teams will return to Premiership action in two weeks’ time, with Chippa away to Mamelodi Sundowns on February 15 and Pirates visiting Black Leopards the following day.

Chippa United (1) 1 (Kwem 29’)

Orlando Pirates (2) 2 (Mhango 12’ pen 20’)

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