Despite the highly anticipated game ending in a stalemate, the almost 90 000-strong crowd enjoyed a thriller at the Soweto derby.
Kaizer Chiefs retained their lead at the top of the Premiership standings after playing to a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Pirates took the lead in the first half, with Collins Mbesuma striking in the 21st minute, and Lehlohonolo Majoro equalised for Chiefs just before the hour mark.
It was a tight midfield battle and there were good chances for both sides late on to steal the win, but Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter was disappointed not to pick up three points against their perennial rivals.
"I wanted this game to be better, and the officiating to be stronger, and I just thought it would be a better game of football, but it was a battle," Baxter said.
"It's disappointing, but a draw might have been a balanced result. I think they were slighty better in the first half and we were slightly better in the second."
Pirates introduced Benni McCarthy late in the second period, and while the hosts also failed to find the winner, the veteran striker had two good chances.
After a scrappy start to the match, Mbesuma brought the game to life with the opening goal midway through the first half.
A pinpoint pass found the Zambian international, and with two defenders breathing down his neck, Mbesuma ran into the box and nailed his shot into the right corner of the net to put the home side ahead.
Six minutes later, Pirates were close to finding their second goal when Sifiso Myeni took a setpiece from a dangerous position 25-metres out. His shot was allowed to bounce near the far post, before drifting wide for a goal kick.
Chiefs were quick with their response. On the half-hour mark, Pirates needed the intervention of Daine Klate who cleared a goalbound effort from Lehlohonolo Majoro off the line.
In the 35th minute, Tshabalala saw his free kick tipped over by Buccaneers keeper Senzo Meyiwa, and eight minutes later, Klate found the ball unmarked in the area, and his fierce shot produced a full-length diving save from Itumeleng Khune in the Chiefs goal.
Siyabonga Sangweni received the ball from the ensuing corner, but his strike was blasted into the crowd.
<strong>Chasing down the front runners</strong>
Chiefs pressed early in the second period and Eric Mathoho produced the fist attempt for his side. He ran onto the ball and from the edge of the area drew a save from Meyiwa in the 52nd minute.
From the corner, Bernard Parker had a free header but he could not keep the ball down as he missed from close range.
Chiefs equalised a minute before the hour mark after Majoro found the ball at his feet, and under close attention from Sangweni, ran toward the touchline, before reeling off an unstoppable effort from a tight angle past Meyiwa.
McCarthy was introduced with 20 minutes left as Pirates went in search of the winner.
Bafana Bafana's top goalscorer was close to a stunning goal in the 82nd minute. An acrobatic bicycle kick from McCarthy from inside the area sailed just wide, and left the striker with his head in his hands.
He had another attempt in the last minute of regulation time, but his header was again fired just wide.
Pirates remained three points behind Amakhosi, and Buccaneers coach Roger de Sa admitted there were areas in which they could improve as they attempted to chase down the front runners.
"We had a couple of chances to win the game but we gave the ball away too cheaply and we got punished. There's a lot to work on, but it's not too bad," De Sa said.
"We were not as fluid in the second half as we were in the first. We gave away too much and the score showed in the end." – Sapa.