AmaZulu FC were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Orlando Pirates in the DStv Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium on Thursday evening.
Therefore, Usuthu remained second on the league standings – four points above second-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows with two games left.
The Buccaneers played with so much determination in the opening exchanges as they searched for an early goal against a stubborn Usuthu side.
The hosts were awarded a free-kick in a promising area in the ninth minute and Deon Hotto forced AmaZulu goalkeeper Veli Mothwa into a comfortable save from the set-piece.
Nkanyiso Zungu’s header was then cleared off the goal-line in the 16th minute, before Frank Mhango placed his effort over the crossbar from the rebound.
Pirates continued to push for the opening goal after the half-hour mark as Thembinkosi Lorch’s effort from range was deflected and Mothwa made an easy save.
AmaZulu then contained Pirates and the score was 0-0 at the interval.
Vincent Pule tried to make an immediate impact a few minutes after being introduced, but the Pirates winger’s shot was well-saved by Mothwa, who was well-positioned to make a save.
Usuthu looked dangerous whenever they pushed forward and Lehlohobolo Majoro’s header hit the crossbar in the 54th minute with goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane well-beaten.
Mpontshane then pulled off a brilliant diving save to deny his former Pirates teammate Luvuyo Memela, who was looking to score with a curling shot in the 64th minute.
It served as a wake-up call for the hosts and they were awarded a free-kick near the AmaZulu box in the 76th minute and Mhango scored with a wonderful effort from the set-piece to make it 1-0 to Pirates.
Amazulu surge forward in numbers as they looked to snatch a late equalising goal and Siyethemba Sithebe’s powerful long-range shot was well saved by Mpontshane with four minutes left.
Ultimately, the match ended in a 1-0 victory in favour of Pirates, who were able to contain AmaZulu in the closing proceedings.
Pirates 1 (Mhango 76′)
Pirates: Mpontshane, Nyauza, Maela, Mako, Ndlovu, Zungu (Makaringe 61′), Monare (Mabaso 61′), Motshwari, Hotto (Pule 46′), Mhango (Mntambo 90′), Lorch (Dlamini 61′).
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, M.Gumede, Kewuti, Xoki, Makhaula (Ncube 7′), Maduna (Memela 65′), Sithebe, Majoro (Mthembu 72′), Qalinge (Mgwazela 72′), Mulenga.