In a thrilling encounter at the Athlone Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Orlando Pirates emerged victorious with a 2-1 win over Stellenbosch FC in the first leg of their MTN8 semifinal clash.
The match was filled with drama, goals, and a pivotal red card that shifted the momentum of the game.
This matchup was a significant one, as these two teams had previously faced off in the opening game of the DStv Premiership season, where Stellenbosch had secured a 1-0 victory at the Danie Craven Stadium.
Orlando Pirates were keen to exact their revenge in this MTN8 encounter.
The action started early, with the home team, Stellenbosch, taking the initiative.
In the fifth minute, Iqraam Rayners had the first notable attempt for Stellenbosch, but his shot from the right of the goal went wide.
The game continued to see chances at both ends.
Patrick Maswanganyi had an attempt off-target in the 14th minute, while Thabo Moloisane’s header for Stellenbosch missed the target just two minutes later.
Qobolwakhe Sibande also had an opportunity for Orlando Pirates but failed to find the necessary power in his shot, which was comfortably saved by Sipho Chaine.
As the half-hour mark approached, Thapelo Xoki ventured into the box but couldn’t keep his header on target.
Stellenbosch suffered a significant setback when Moloisane was shown a straight red card in the 32nd minute, reducing them to ten men.
Despite being a man down, Sage Stephens, Stellenbosch’s goalkeeper, was called into action.
He made crucial saves, denying Nkosinathi Sibisi’s header in the 36th minute and facing shots from Zakhele Lepasa and Deon Hotto from range.
Monnapule Saleng’s attempt in the 42nd minute was perhaps the closest Orlando Pirates came to taking the lead, but Stephens made a diving save to keep out the header.
With a numerical advantage, Pirates finished the first half strongly, dominating possession.
However, just before the halftime whistle, Stellenbosch stunned Pirates by taking the lead against the run of play.
Islam Toure’s header put them in front, setting the stage for an intriguing second half.
With Stellenbosch down to ten men, Pirates came out with determination in the second half, making early changes to capitalize on their advantage.
They tried to test Stephens with long-range shots, looking to get back into the game.The first-leg encounter in the MTN8 semifinal lived up to expectations, delivering excitement and drama.
Pirates secured a crucial victory, but Stellenbosch’s resilience, even with ten men, ensured that the tie remains finely poised for the second leg.
Football fans eagerly await the return fixture, anticipating more thrilling moments in this exciting semifinal clash.