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 blew three great chances to open the scoring within the first 10 minutes – two saw Thamsanqa Gabuza fail to even hit the target, while Vincent Pule had the clearest opening within the first 30 seconds after kick-off but was unable to get the better of goalkeeper Rotshidzwa Muleka.
Pule tried his hand again in the 25th minute when he whipped a left-footed effort toward goal direct from a free kick, but the ball flashed just over the crossbar and rippled the top of the netting.
Just a minute later Muleka was on hand again to push away Pule’s volley, while the rebound fell for Gabuza but his acrobatic effort was bravely blocked by Leopards defender Thivhavhudzi Ndou.
However, Ndou scored a poor own goal in the 34th minute to put the Buccaneers ahead, skewing an attempted clearance from Gabuza’s left-flank cross into his own net. The Pirates striker, who had been the target of the boo boys, then bizarrely 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 did he reappear, 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.
Black Leopards: 1
Orlando Pirates: 2
Ndou og 34’, Pule 65’
Leopards: Muleka, Munyai, Ndou, Munganga, Mashoane, Nene (Kapinga 77’), Tshepe (T. Ndlovu 61’), Nange, Mudau (Mhlongo 46’), Khutlang, Musonda
Pirates: Mpontshane, Matlaba (Mahlonoko 90+2’), Jele, Munetsi, Maela, Mako, Motshwari, Mlambo, Mntambo (Shonga 63’), Pule (Thopola 77’), Gabuza