Stalemate leaves SuperSport top
SuperSport United came from behind to draw 1-1 with Orlando Pirates and retain their six-point advantage in the South African Premiership title race.
Midfielder Dikgang Mabalane brought a tense top-of-the-table clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria to life by giving the 'Buccaneers' a 75th-minute lead with an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area. But the black-clad Pirates supporters in the 25,000 crowd were still celebrating what they believed was the winner when Liberian striker Anthony Laffor punished sloppy defending to equalise three minutes later.
The goals set up a thrilling finish in which title holders SuperSport went close to snatching the lead several times and the woodwork foiled Pirates two minutes into stoppage time. SuperSport have 54 points with two fixtures to play and Pirates 48 with three to go, including a Soweto derby against fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs on 2 May at Ellis Park.
United appear to have a slightly easier run-in against mid-table outfits Golden Arrows (home) and Santos (away) while Pirates complete their 30-match schedule by tackling Ajax Cape Town (away) and AmaZulu (home).
SuperSport and Pirates are chasing a million-dollar first prize, easily the biggest cheque on offer in Africa to winners of a national football championship.
Diminutive Mabalane struck after SuperSport failed to clear a corner conceded by captain and central defender Bongani Khumalo when veteran goalkeeper Andre Arendse got caught out of position. Several Pirates defenders should have cleared a loose ball soon after, but hesitation cost them dearly as Laffor burst into the penalty area and poked the ball past goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.
A thrill-a-minute climax saw substitute Letladi Madubanya (twice) and Mozambique midfielder Elias 'Domingues' Pelembe go close to snatching maximum points for SuperSport and a Modise drive rebound to safety.
Midfielder Abia Nale scored late in the opening half after slick passing to give Chiefs a 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns at Absa Stadium in Durban and consolidate their hold on third place. Relegation-threatened Thanda Royal Zulu suffered another blow when they slumped 5-2 at Ajax Cape Town with South Africa striker Mabhuti Khenyeza scoring a hat-trick for the 'Urban Wariors'.