|Collins Mbesuma © Gallo Images
University of Pretoria suffered their first loss of the season as Orlando Pirates brought them down to earth with a convincing 3-1 win at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
As a result of this deserved victory, Pirates moves to 12 points on the log and they have surely resurrected their league campaign which looked to be stuttering in the opening few games of the league season.
The Buccaneers will now take closer aim at bitter rivals and current log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs as they hope to defend their crown.
For Tuks, despite the fact they stunned the large black and white crowd here with an early goal, it is back to the drawing board and coach Steve Barker will have to deal with the defensive problems that were evident on the day.
The game started off at a slow pace with both teams testing each other in the opening minutes where they also created few notable chances to excite the crowd.
It did not take too long for some goal excitement, though, as Tuks found the back of the net in the 12th minute when impressive attacker Bongani Zungu opened the scoring with a clever chip over the advancing Pirates goalkeeper Moneeb Josephs, 1-0.
Pirates coach Roger De Sa must have had some harsh words for his midfielders, who allowed Mphahlele’s calculated long ball to somehow find Zungu unmarked in their half to punish them and silence the large crowd.
The goal sparked some more attacking life into Pirates and Zambian international Collins Mbesuma came close to drawing the Buccaneers level in the 23rd minute, but he could not find the target inside the box after a ping-pong battle inside the Tuks penalty area.
Two minutes later, it was the turn of veteran midfielder Onyekachi Okwonkwo to try his luck, but his final effort was too weak to trouble Tuks keeper Washington Arubi after being passed the ball by Siyabonga Sangweni.
Given the forceful manner in which Pirates were attacking, it was no surprise at all when they equalized in the 28th minute from Mbesuma, who scored his first league goal of the season, after he was released by a pass from Sifiso Myeni, 1-1.
Immediately after the restart, Pirates threw another attack at Tuks, but midfielder Oupa Manyisa’s attempt was thwarted by defender Siyabonga Shoyisa who was at fault for Mbesums’s goal in the first half.
Just before the half hour mark, Tuks nearly took the lead again when a point blank header from towering striker Mame Niang ricocheted off the upright with Josephs well beaten in the 57th minute.
Pirates responded to Niang’s thread immediately with a foray into the danger area of Tuks forcing Mphahlele to bring down Manyisa in the box and Jali stood up and showed nerves of steel to send Arubi the wrong way from the penalty spot, 2-1.
By this time, Pirates were enjoying the lion’s share of the possession and it did not take long after the penalty for them to increase their lead when Myeni, who had a storming game in the heart of the midfield, released Mbesuma to register his brace, 3-1.
University of Pretoria (1) 1 (Zungu 12’)
Orlando Pirates (0) 3 (Mbesuma 28’ + 66’, Jali 58’ pen)
University of Pretoria: Arubi, Mphahlele, Shoyisa, Mkhwanazi, Sibande (Sibisi 84), Matsi, Selolwane (Mosadi 53), Mutizwa, Ngoma, Zungu, Niang
Orlando Pirates: Josephs, Sangweni, Mahamutsa, Legkwathi, Phungwayo, Jali, Manyisa (Ntshumayelo 79), Mbuyane (Klate 23), Myeni, Okwonkwo, Mbesuma (Ndulula 66)