Celtic find form to keep the Soweto giants at bay. Bloemfontein Celtic eventually ended a series of draws with a victory that also earned them a first win in nine matches in all competitions. The heavy downpour that followed the second half was symbolic in a sense that Celtic also showered their coach Ernst Middendorp with a maiden win since the German-born mentor took charge in October. Prior to this Absa Premiership fixture, Celtic last collected maximum points with a 3-2 win over Polokwane City three months ago. For Pirates, the setback was their first home defeat this year, even when Lennox Bacela’s equaliser 10 minutes after the break ignited some hope that jerked up their play. The loss for Bucs coach Roger De Sa also broke the winning momentum in the midst of his team’s catch-up programme, where they are still six matches behind the team with the most matches so far this season. The game was Pirates’ fifth league outing as they engaged in the CAF Champions League, where they ended as runners-up to Al Ahly three weeks ago. It was a continental commitment that led to some of the fixtures being rescheduled, which left the likes of Celtic with no matches for longer periods. To their credit, Celtic did not show signs of rustiness as they put up some impressive interchanges on the attack. They last played competitively on November 10. While the Free State-based side embraced this triumph, surely they will also look into how they complement their impressive play with goals. Celtic had 10 attempts at goal in the opening half but only hit the target once. Middendorp’s side should have gone to the break with more than the strike from Vuyani Ntanga, but lack of confidence undid the remarkable combination of Lerato Manzini, Musa Nyatama and Gabadinho Mhango. Despite being on the scoresheet, Nyatama was among the culprits on the night, as well as fellow midfielder Wandisile Letlabika, who should have scored twice in the opening quarter. Somehow, the heavy rainfall interrupted the flow of the game but favoured Pirates, who were better despite the slippery conditions. Pirates had brought in some changes in the absence of defender Rooi Mahamutsa (recovering from an elbow injury) and the suspended Happy Jele. De Sa handed the club’s development product Mbongeni Gumede his debut at right-back. The 20-year-old was one of the four changes from the side that defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 midweek. Pirates will shift their focus to the Telkom Knockout final against Platinum Stars on Saturday, and then will have a lot of catching up to do with four league matches before the festive recess. The defeat left them rooted at the bottom of the log with just seven points. »?Kaizer Chiefs went top of the log with a 2-0 victory over Free State Stars in Bethlehem earlier in the day. Goals by Siyabonga Nkosi and Siphiwe Tshabalala took Amakhosi to a second successive league win following Wednesday night’s 4-1 annihilation of Polokwane City. »?In other Absa Premiership matches played yesterday, Tuks beat AmaZulu 2-0 while Platinum Stars continued their rich vein of form with a 2-1 win.