Orlando Pirates sailed into the semifinals of the Telkom Knockout when they destroyed SuperSport United 3-0 at Loftus on Saturday night.
Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs — who earlier on Saturday beat Free State Stars 2-0 at the Rand Stadium — have whetted appetites for next Saturday’s Absa Premiership Soweto Derby at the FNB Stadium.
More importantly for Pirates they are a step closer to reaching their second successive cup final this season, after they won the MTN8 trophy last month in Durban where they defeated Moroka Swallows.
It is tough times for defending Premiership champions United who have now lost to the so-called ‘Big Three” at home this season.
SuperSport were beaten by both Chiefs 2-0 and Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in the league, and the lack of a goal scorer must be giving United coach Gavin Hunt nightmares.
Hunt’s side rarely threatened the well marshalled Pirates defence.
United can claim to have been unlucky against both Downs and Amakhosi but they were outplayed by a ruthless no-nonsense Pirates side that showed more hunger and determination to get in to the last four.
United looked stronger at the end of the first half, but fell apart when Pirates scored their third goal after 64 minutes.
The match got off to a dramatic start when Pirates were awarded a penalty in the fifth minute after referee Daniel Bennett adjudged United’s debutant defender Keeno Shellar to have handled a shot from Bucs left wing Daine Klate inside his penalty area.
Klate, who joined Bucs from the three-time Premiership champions at the start of the season, opted to take the spot kick against his former club. But the pressure was too much for the former SuperSport star who smashed his shot at goalkeeper Wayne Brown.
The English-born keeper showed his experience and did well to throw his body at the ball and managed to prevent Bucs taking an early lead.
It was a brave decision to take responsibility for the penalty by the talented left wing. Klate said before the match it would be an emotional night for him — playing against the side where he won three back-to-back Premiership titles.
Klate made amends four minutes later when his curling corner was headed into the net by Bucs skipper Lucky Lekgwathi to give the Buccaneers a 1-0 lead. The powerful close-range header gave Brown no chance.
Dikgang Mabalane shot over the SuperSport crossbar from the edge of the area in the 20th minute as Bucs kept up the pressure for a second goal.
But United got their act together and managed to smother the dangerous Pirates midfield. Jabu Maluleke was unlucky when his shot deflected off a Pirates defender and hit the Bucs crossbar on 33 minutes.
United striker Dipsy Selolwane brought out the best in Pirates keeper Moeneeb Josephs two minutes from the break when Josephs was forced at full-stretch to turn the Botswana international strike’s shot for a corner.
But the cup-tie was all over when another Pirates defender Rooi Mahamutsa headed home a Mabalane corner in the 58th minute that took the fight out of United and sent the Buccaneers into the semifinals.
Pirates — enjoying the best start to a season in years — were far from finished and showed the ailing league champions no mercy when Klate found Malawian teammate Chiukepo Msowoya with a pin-point cross. The Malawian striker made no mistake with a clinical finish in the 64th minute to flatten a dejected United to make it 3-0 and put the game beyond the outplayed SuperSport.
Msowoya is fast winning over the Bucs fans after scoring a stunning goal in last weekend’s 3-0 league win over Ajax Cape Town.
The 10 000 or so fans showed their delight after their team raced to a second successive 3-0 rout.
Thulasizwe Mbuyane fired a 30 metre rocket that brown did well to save in the 81st minute.
SuperSport substitute Thulani Ngcepe had his close-range shot deflected over the crossbar in a rare attack in the 83rd minute. – Sapa