Mamelodi Sundowns made a winning start to the new year after edging Orlando Pirates 1-0 in a DStv Premiership clash on Saturday afternoon.
Aubrey Modiba and Khuliso Mudau made their first league starts of the season for Sundowns who were without Themba Zwane, while goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands started on the side of the Buccaneers.
Lebohang Maboe could’ve opened the deadlocked in the first two minutes after landing onto a cutback from strike-partner Peter Shalulile, but he blazed over the top.
Shalulile did have the ball in the back of the net on 12 minutes with a smartly taken header from a delicate delivery by Mothobi Mvala, but it was disallowed for offside.
Pirates started to open up minutes before the midway stage as a thumping strike from Vincent Pule forced Denis Onyango to palm for a corner-kick before Thembinkosi Lorch fired across goal.
The Brazilians found the opener ten minutes before halftime when Brian Onyango headed a looping ball from Ricardo Nascimento into the near corner following a free-kick from the right-side.
Pirates turned to the substitutes’ bench during the start of the second half and hauled in Siphesihle Ndlovu, who replaced Wayde Jooste.
The Buccaneers were presented a sight on goal 53 minutes in after a first-time shot from Lorch had Onyango scrambling to a near post save.
Masandawana should’ve made it two minutes later following a scramble in the six-yard area, but Mvala scooped wide before Thapelo Morena brought Sandilands to a point-blank save.
Pirates regrouped following a slow spell and brought the best out of Onyango with a curling free-kick from Gabadinho Mhango, as full-time loomed.
Kermit Erasmus should’ve given Sundowns a second from a ball in the area, but struck the post minutes later before going on to stung the gloves of Sandilands, but one goal was enough to hand Pirates their first loss of the season.
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Mudau, Lakay, Nascimento, B. Onyango, Coetzee, Mvala, Maboe, Morena, Modiba, Shalulile.
Subs: Mweene, Jali, Margeman, Kapinga, Erasmus, Soumahoro, Langerman, Mkhulise, Makgalwa.
Pirates: Sandilands, Hlatshwayo, Nyauza, Jooste, Maela, Motshwari, Makaringe, Lorch, Hotto, Pule, Dzvukamanja.
Subs: Mpontshane, Mundele, Mako, Zungu, Monare, Ndlovu, Mhango, Jele, Monyane.