DURBAN, October 6 – AmaZulu came from behind to grab a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates in a pulsating Premiership encounter at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday.
In a night of action-packed football there were goal-scoring opportunities throughout the 90 minutes, with both goalkeepers pulling off some fine saves.
In the end, though, a strike just after halftime from AmaZulu marksman Emiliano Tade was enough to cancel out Augustine Mulenga’s early opener as the Sea Robbers move level on points with log leaders Bidvest Wits at least until Sunday afternoon, when the Clever Boys play Sundowns in Pretoria.
AmaZulu had managed to make a bright start to the game, but found themselves a goal down with 13 minutes played when Thembinkosi Lorch split the defence with a ball through to Mulenga, who coolly slotted past Usuthu keeper Siyabonga Mbatha from close range.
The Durban team came back fighting, but despite enjoying good phases of play, they battled to threaten the Pirates goal. AmaZulu’s best play of the first half was not even to end in a shot on goal as Ntsikelelo Nyauza made a brilliant tackle to stop Tade from pulling the trigger at the end of a slick 33rd minute move.
At the other end, Bucs were close to extending their lead five minutes later when a miscued clearance fell to Xola Mlambo, but his snap-volley was well saved by Mbatha.
AmaZulu came flying out the blocks in the second half and were back on even terms in the 49th minute when Jabulani Ncubeni combined with Bongi Ntuli inside the box before the ball fell kindly for Tade to sweep into the net from 12-yards out.
Pirates could have reclaimed their lead just moments later when Justin Shonga went clean through on goal, but in a one-on-one situation, Mbatha came out trumps.
The action continued as Jackson Mabokgwane just about kept out a Tade free kick before the Argentine striker pounced on a loose ball to set up Ntuli right in front of goal, but Mabokgwane did brilliantly to block from point-blank range.
AmaZulu defender Marc van Heerden fired a missile of a shot just over the Pirates crossbar and then Shonga’s volley from a tight angle rattled the woodwork in what was becoming a real thriller.
The action continued to ebb and flow from end to end in front of a packed house and after Shonga got his angles all wrong from close-range on a Lorch cross, Mabokgwane pulled off another breathtaking save to keep out a stinging free kick 12 minutes from time by the impressive Tade.
All even was how it ended as neither team created any clear chances in the dying moments of a memorable match. (ANA)