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18/12/2011 15:30

Celtic stop Bucs in their tracks

Posted: 18 December 2011 Time: 17:35

Orlando Pirates' hopes of closing to within four points at the top of the table were dashed when they lost 1-0 to Bloemfontein Celtic.

The Buccaneers were hoping to up the pressure on Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs at the head of the table, but Clifford Mulenga's early goal saw Phunya Sele Sele to a hard-fought win that instead boosts their top eight ambitions.

It is also Celtic's first League win over Pirates since the 2006/07 season.

Ruben Cloete also got his marching orders in the 90th minute for a second yellow card.

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After a bright start from Pirates, Celtic drew first blood in the 14th minute, when Mulenga controlled a ball in the penalty area, turned Rooi Mahamutsa inside-out, and then finished coolly into the top corner to make it 1-0.

Following Celtic's early strike, the Buccaneers began to move through the gears and dominated. A short while after a water break midway through the first half they should have pulled themselves level when Benni McCarthy got on the end of a great cross from Ndumiso Mabena, but the striker's scuffed effort was saved by Patrick Tignyemb.

Around the half-hour mark Mulenga began to exert his influence on the game again, first firing a missile of a shot just wide of Senzo Meyiwa's left-hand post before forcing the stand-in goalkeeper into a punch off his goal-line with a dipping free-kick five minutes later.

12 minutes after the restart Isaac Chansa made a half chance with a diagonal cross into the penalty area, but Thulasizwe Mbuyane was just unable to reach the ball.

With just under 20 minutes to play, the Soweto giants finally forced Tignyemb into a save of note: the Cameroonian goalkeeper had to move sharply to his right to keep out a McCarthy free-kick as Celtic were forced onto the back foot.

Yet Celtic still had a chance to kill the game off on 76 minutes when former Pirates striker Ezenwa Otorogu was gifted a shooting chance from a just a few metres out, but the Nigerian fluffed the opportunity.

In the 82nd minute another former Buccaneer, winger Phenyo Mongala, almost scored a sensational goal after he spotted Meyiwa off his line and went for a long range lob, but the keeper quickly backpedalled and made an excellent save to keep his side in the game.

However, Pirates could find no way past Celtic's defence, and even ended the match with 10 men when Cloete picked up his second yellow card for remonstrating with the referee.

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