Johannesburg – Collins Mbesuma shone at the front of the Orlando Pirates attack, scoring a brace as he spearheaded a 2-0 win over 10-man Black Leopards in Polokwane on Saturday night.
Mbesuma was on fire, playing a key role as the defending champions progressed to the Telkom Knockout quartefinals.
The Buccaneers played well down the flanks and made some clever turns in front of goal, storming forward for most of the match.
Mbesuma struck as early as the sixth minute after Lehlogonolo Masalesa broke down the right wing and delivered a pin-point cross for the Zambian international to head home.
Nine minutes later Sifiso Myeni delivered a nifty back heel, setting up Mbesuma, but he failed to capitalise, and shortly after the half-hour mark the striker again missed an opportunity when Leopards goalminder Posnett Omony easily saved a low-struck effort.
The home side orchestrated their first real chance with 11 minutes left in the opening period, but Rodney Ramagalela blasted over from outside the area.
Leopards were dealt a blow five minutes later when Thulani Ntshingila was sent off for a second offence, after a foul on Andile Jali, and the hosts went in to the break one man and one goal down.
Pirates were less aggressive after half-time but still dominated and Mbesuma had a great chance in the 56th minute when he thundered a header centimetres over the crossbar.
The home side managed to surge ahead with only 14 minutes left and they nearly equalised, with Leopards captain Mongezi Bobe forcing Pirates keeper Moeneeb Josephs to stretch, getting a hand to the ball as the Bafana shot stopper tipped it over the bar.
Two minutes later Ndumiso Mabena hit the right post from close range, and he was at it again just seconds later, this time setting up Mbesuma who netted with 10 minutes left.
Mabena drew a diving save from Omony in the dying stages, and while Pirates could not break through again, they coasted to a dominant victory. – Sapa