Bloemfontein: Orlando Pirates were held to a 1-1 draw by Bloemfontein Celtic in an entertaining Absa Premiership clash at a rainy Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result, which featured goals from Frank Mhango and Siphelele Luthuli for the away and home sides respectively, sees the Buccaneers up to fifth place on 21 points from 15 games, while Phunya Sele Sele remain in ninth on 18 points from 15 outings.
The teams traded early chances in the opening minutes, but it was Pirates who claimed the breakthrough in the 14th minute: Frank Mhango played a neat one-two with Vincent Pule before stroking a low shot past Jackson Mabokgwane to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Celtic responded well to going behind, with Mzwanele Mahashe hitting the post with an effort a few minutes later, before a deflected shot from Ndumiso Mabena forced goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands into some good work for the Buccaneers.
On 26 minutes Pirates were unlucky not to double their lead, with Pule netting via an audacious back-heel only for the effort to be debatably ruled out for offside, while 10 minutes later Celtic put together a sweeping passing move to create a chance for Menzi Masuku, but he hit his effort straight at Sandilands.
The second half opened with Celtic making a change, as Andile Fikizolo replaced Harris Tchilimbou in attack, though the substitute’s first contribution was to pick up a yellow card within a couple of minutes.
Pirates had another goal ruled out before the hour mark, while Celtic began to build themselves back into the contest with chances for the likes of Masuku, Fikizolo and Mabena.
The key moment arrived in the 81st minute: substitute Victor Letsoalo laid on a pass for Siphelele Luthuli, who curled home a beautiful long-range effort to make it 1-1 and set up a thrilling finale.
The teams traded chances in what remained of the game, with Tshegofatso Mabasa and Pule going close for Bucs, while Celtic’s Luthuli and Letsoalo looked dangerous when finding space between the lines. Yet no further goals arrived, leaving the game locked at 1-1.
The teams will be back in Premiership action this coming midweek, with Celtic away to Stellenbosch and Pirates visiting Polokwane City.
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 1 (Luthuli 81’)
Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Mhango 14’)
Celtic: Mabokgwane, Ngobeni, Mahashe, Khasipe, Rikhotso, Masuku (Motebang 61’), Luthuli, Phalane, Potsane (Letsoalo 81’), Tchilimbou (Fikizolo 46’), Mabena
Pirates: Sandilands, Maela, Jele, Nyauza, Mabaso, Motshwari, Makaringe, Pule, Mulenga (Dlamini 60’), Shonga (Mabasa 87’), Mhango (Mntambo 76’). Psl.co.za