Pirates close gap on Chiefs to one point
Orlando Pirates won 2-0 against Golden Arrows in Durban on Wednesday to finish the first half of the South African Premiership season one point behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Daine Klate bent a first half free-kick past Latvian goalkeeper Pavel Steinbors and Pirates added a second soon after half-time through a Happy Jele far-post header off a corner.
Chiefs have 35 points and arch Soweto rivals Pirates 34 after 16 rounds of the richest African national football championship with a US$1.2 million cheque going to the winners.
Platinum Stars, an unfashionable, star-less side from north-west mining town Rustenburg who have exceeded expectations this season with 10 wins, remained third three points behind Pirates despite a 2-0 loss at Moroka Swallows.
Victory in Soweto was a timely relief for Swallows under-pressure coach Zeca Marques after an eight-match winless league run that left the 2012 runners-up just above the relegation zone.
Bennett Chenene broke the deadlock after 38 minutes and Katlego Mashego added a second on the stroke of half-time to become joint leading Premiership scorer this season on nine goals with Bernard Parker of Chiefs.
Free State Stars climbed above Maritzburg United into fourth place thanks to a dramatic 1-1 draw against Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg with Luyolo Nomandela netting three minutes into stoppage time after Calvin Kadi opened the scoring.
Draw specialists SuperSport United won for only the third time in 16 outings with Franklyn Cale scoring one minute from time against former club Ajax Cape Town to snatch a 2-1 win in Pretoria township Atteridgeville.
Former champions SuperSport, who have drawn 11 league matches this season, must have feared sharing the points again when Brazilian Wanderson equalised for Ajax after Prince Nxumalo had put United ahead.
Surprise strugglers Mamelodi Sundowns stretched an unbeaten run to four games since Pitso Mosimane replaced 1970s Netherlands star Johan Neeskens as coach by drawing 1-1 with Chippa United in Cape Town.
Second-last Chippa nudged ahead on the half-hour mark when Welcome Qalanto scored his sixth goal of the campaign only for Wayne Arendse to level midway through the second half by nodding in a corner.
Hosts Bloemfontein Celtic and Black Leopards were also involved in a 1-1 draw with Lerato Manzini giving the local club a 28th-minute lead that was cancelled soon after by Mongezi Bobe.
The Premiership resumes on 12 February after an extended break because South Africa are hosting the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on 19 January at the 93,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto.