Orlando Pirates returned to winning form in the Absa Premiership when they defeated Black Leopards 2-1 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Buccaneers secured the victory despite playing almost two thirds of the match with 10 men and move to third place on the log with seven points from four matches.
Lidoda Duvha remain in sixth spot with five points after suffering a first defeat since their promotion back to the top flight.
Pirates wasted three clear cut chances of scoring within the first 10 minutes, first it was Vincent Pule just after kick-off. Then Thamsanqa Gabuza also failed to hit the target.
The Buccaneers had a chance to open the scoring in the 25th minute but again they let Leopards off the hook.
In fact it was Lidoda Duvha who scored an own goal to give Pirates the lead.
There was more drama as Gabuza , who had been the target of the Pirates supporters who booed him, then ran to the sidelines, threw his shirt into the crowd and disappeared down the players’ tunnel.
He didn’t reappear for the remainder of the first half, or even at the start of the second, with Pirates claiming that they were assessing an injury he supposedly sustained in celebrating the goal. Only five minutes after the restart he reappeared, with an ice pack strapped to his thigh.
The referee duly showed him two yellow cards (presumably one for removing his shirt, another for leaving the field without permission) and he was dismissed, leaving the Soweto giants to continue with 10 men for the rest of the game.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Pirates doubled their lead in the 65th minute. Xola Mlambo played a fine ball over the top of the defence and Pule this time kept his composure in front of goal, easing the ball past Muleka to make it 2-0.
Lidoda Duvha appeared to be down and out, but in the 70th minute they received a lifeline in spectacular fashion. Substitute Joseph Mhlongo saw his initial shot on the edge of the box blocked, but the ball looped up and fell kindly for him to have a second attempt – this time he ripped an unstoppable left-footed volley into the top corner to reduce the deficit.
Yet that was to be as good as it got for the hosts, who were unable to create any further openings. The teams will return to league action midway through next month, with Pirates and Leopards at home to SuperSport United and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively.