Tshegofatso Mabasa scored a late winner to hand Orlando Pirates a 2-1 win against Enyimba at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Austin Oladapo’s penalty had cancelled Daniel Hotto’s opener to ensure parity at the break, but Mabasa’s header won it for the South Africans in the last minute of regulation time.
From the beginning, the hosts dominated territory with their aggressive press but found chances hard to come by as Enyimba sat deep and maintained their shape.
Pirates eventually got their breakthrough midway through the half when Hotto backheeled into the far post following a faulty clearance from the Enyimba keeper, John Noble.
Enyimba began to create their chances from then, and Siyabonga Mpontshane stretched fully to keep out Anayo Iwusla’s strike before Samson Obi shot over after playing himself through on goal.
With halftime beckoning, Victor Mbaoma played Anayo Iwuala through, and the fast winger was brought down by the keeper for a penalty. Oladapo converted expertly from the spot to draw level with the last kick of the half.
The Buccaneers took off again at the restart and it took John Noble’s brilliance to deny Vincent Pule early on, before Saekhile Maele missed a free header minutes later.
Joe Zinnbauer’s men were offered the perfect opportunity to get back ahead when Nelson Ogbonnaya tripped Gabadinho Mhango in the box, but Mabasa slipped as he kicked from the spot, sending the ball over the top.
Noble again kept Enyimba in the game in the 82nd minute with an incredible reflex to punch Kabelo Dlamini’s hit over the top.
Mabasa, however, stole it for Pirates in the 89th minute when he headed a low corner into the near post to dislodge Enyimba from the top of group A.
FATAI OSHO’S POST MATCH COMMENTS
“We had our reasons to play the way we played. We knew quite well that the Orlando Pirates team have their way to move the ball quickly and they are extremely fast and we knew we had to play with a lot of caution.
“We didn’t have to go head to head just like that against them (because) we might leave some space behind that they would quickly exploit based on their quickness, so that’s why we had to be a bit cautious going into the game.
“We tried as much as possible to go on the break and we succeeded in doing that. Two times we were one-on-one against their goalkeeper and those chances were lost. That could have been the turning point of that game if those chances were converted. We couldn’t do that and that really hurts.”
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