Posted on February 20, 2011 19:12
A last minute equaliser by Orlando Pirates' Andile Jali dealt a hard blow to an enterprising AmaZulu when 'Usuthu' played against the Soweto side on Sunday afternoon.
AmaZulu had earlier silenced Orlando Stadium and scored what looked like the winning goal in the clash through striker Lehlonolo Majoro in the 87th minute.
The home team's complacency for most of the game nearly cost them, but in injury time they managed to scrape a point from the game when Happy Jele scored the equaliser. He nudged the ball home after a goalmouth scuffle and gave the crowd something to cheer about for the first time in the game.
With the draw, Pirates remain on top of the log with 44 points, but now only a point ahead of Ajax Cape Town and two ahead of Kaizer Chiefs who have a game in hand.
The draw means Pirates' next game against Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Saturday could well decide the title race.
The first half started very slowly, with Pirates in particular looking hesitant and cautious on their home ground.
Curiously, it was the visitors who came out in an a more attacking mood and it was AmaZulu who enjoyed better goalscoring opportunities in the opening 20 minutes.
Pirates added to coach Ruud Krol's concerns as his team's defence looked fragile and were guilty of some very poor decision making.
For the first 40 minutes of the first half, neither keeper was even tested. The first good chance for either side fell to Pirates in the 42nd minute.
Amazulu midfielder Sibusiso Hadebe carelessly lost the ball to Pirates defender Jele. He made a run down the right before whipping a ball into the penalty area only to see it easily cleared.
Striker Patrick Malokase wasted the best chance of the half for Pirates in injury time, when he was one-on-one with keeper Mbongeni Mzimela but failed to hit the the target.
Pirates finally upped the intensity of their play after the 70-minute mark and they created a number of good chances.
Katlego Mashego was guilty of a shocking miss in the 73rd minute. He found himself in space and was left with just AmaZulu keeper Mbongeni Mzimela to beat. His shot managed to miss the target as it was drilled onto the post to the boos of the home crowd.
Buccaneers defender Rooi Mahamutsa could have easily scored three minutes later but his well-struck header was deflected over by Mzimela.
As injury time neared, Pirates went a goal behind before they finally put a ball in the back of the net.
Pirates played well enough for a draw, but it will be AmaZulu who will feel they let a crucial victory slip from their grasp.