Free State Stars down Pirates in five-goal thriller

Tendai Ndoro (Gallo Images)
Tendai Ndoro (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Free Stars Stars showed great character to hold off Orlando Pirates to record a 3-2 win in a league encounter at the James Motlatsi Stadium on Saturday evening.

A fired-up Stars side made a storming start to the game and were twice two goals to the good, only for Pirates to find a way of decreasing the deficit to one each time. While Pirates dictated large portions of the second half, it was the home side who had the better chances, although the score-line remained unchanged.

Moeketsi Sekola put Stars in front in as early as the fourth minute after expertly controlling a cross from the left before firing clinically past Brighton Mhlongo.

The lead was doubled less than ten minutes later when Sinethemba Jantjie's free kick was glanced in at the far post via the head of Paulus Masehe.

Mohamed Anas had a great opportunity to put Stars further ahead just a couple of minutes later after the ball broke kindly to him right in front of goal, but he stabbed his shot wide with only Mhlongo to beat.

Jantjie was then very unlucky not to register on the score sheet when his mazy run ended with him curling a shot into the crossbar as Stars continued to pile on the pressure.

Instead Bucs were back in the game in the 24th minute when Thembinkosi Lorch's shot stuck Rooi Mahamutsa on the line before hitting goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni and deflecting into the net.

Stars did not, however, let the setback get them down and they soon restored the two-goal cushion on the half hour mark when Anas buried a beautiful curler into the top corner from 25-yards out.

A clumsy challenge by Makhehleni Makhaula on Oupa Manyisa inside the box in first half added time saw a penalty awarded which Tendai Ndoro comfortably stroked into the back of the net as Ngobeni went the wrong way; Pirates going into half time at 2-3 down.

Although the Soweto team were to push for another goal after half time, it was Ea Lla Koto who had opportunities to increase their tally, but Jantjie missed narrowly with a shot from the edge of the box before Anas was denied at close range by a brilliant stop by Mhlongo.

With little to separate the two sides in an increasingly tense encounter, it was Stars who again had opportunities as Sekola and then Sthembiso Dlamini both went close around the 80 minute mark.

At the other end, Pirates were unable to create any clear openings of their own as the home defence held on doggedly in added time to secure the three points and move out of the drop zone.

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