Orlando Pirates have kept their Absa Premiership title hopes alive by handing outgoing champions Bidvest Wits a 4-0 thrashing at an empty Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The match played behind closed doors saw the Buccaneers claim an emphatic victory and close the gap to leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to four points, with the Brazilians held 2-2 in a concurrent match by Maritzburg United.
The result also sees the Clever Boys just two points above the relegation zone and they will need a strong end to the campaign to ensure they don’t end up in the playoffs.
Both teams looked lively in attack in the early stages, with Pirates’ Augustine Mulenga sending a shot wide of the target from a good chance in the fifth minute.
Two minutes later a mistake at the back from the hosts allowed Wits’ Eleazar Rodgers to get the better of goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane, but his half-saved effort only trickled toward the empty goal and was recovered by Gladwin Shitolo.
Bucs then broke the deadlock on 13 minutes, as an attack down the left flank saw Mulenga play in a good low cross, only for Luvoyo Memela to fluff the chance. However, the ball rebounded off the legs of the unwitting Sifiso Hlanti and found the back of the net for an own goal.
Things went from bad to worse for the Wits left-back when his poor back-pass allowed Mulenga to run free on goal before slipping a low shot past Kyle Peters to make it 2-0 to Pirates in the 36th minute.
Three minutes later a clumsy challenge from Nazeer Allie on Mulenga in the corner of the box handed the hosts a penalty. Justin Shonga converted the spot kick to make it 3-0 with just 41 minutes played.
Wits made two changes at the start of the second half, sending on Lehlohonolo Majoro and Reeve Frosler, and they had the first notable effort after the restart, with Vincent Pule’s left-footed drive turned over the crossbar by Mpontshane in the 53rd minute.
Yet five minutes later Bucs made it 4-0, with a rebound falling kindly for Memela, who teed up Mulenga to show his class by sidestepping the goalkeeper before tapping into an empty net for his second goal of the night.
Wits had a chance to pull a goal back in the 85th minute when Marshall Munetsi was adjudged to have pushed Majoro in the back and a penalty was awarded. However, the striker failed to score from the spot kick, with his effort saved by Mpontshane.
Orlando Pirates 4
Hlanti 13’ og, Mulenga 36’ 58’, Shonga 41’ pen
Bidvest Wits 0
Pirates: Mpontshane, Nyauza (Munetsi 73’), Thopola, Jele, Maela, Shitolo, Nyatama, Mlambo, Memela (Gabuza 83’), Mulenga, Shonga (Maphanga 63’)
Wits: Peters, Allie (Frosler 46’), Mkhwanazi, Gyimah, Hlanti, Scott (Claasen 70’), Monare, Ritchie, Pule, Mosiatlhaga (Majoro 46’), Rodgers