Substitute striker John Mabaso went from villain to hero when he produced a match winning header in Orlando Pirates 2-1 smash and grab win against Nigerian visitors Enyimba FC.
CAPE TOWN – Substitute striker John Mabaso went from villain to hero when he produced a match winning header in Orlando Pirates 2-1 smash and grab win against Nigerian visitors Enyimba FC in their CAF Confederation Cup Group A match at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.
One minute ahead of the end of regulation time, Mabaso outjumped the opposition defence to head home from a corner kick, and the goal proved to be the decider.
Earlier, Mabaso replaced midfielder Linda Mntambo just ahead of the hour mark. He had a chance to make his presence felt in the 75th minute. Instead, he skied his penalty attempt in the pouring rain and ended up on his backside in the slippery conditions.
The result marked Enyimba’s first defeat while Pirates retained their unbeaten record after two rounds with a win and a draw.
Both teams enjoyed a rich vein of form coming into the match, and each boasted nine-match unbeaten runs.
Pirates had the lion’s share of first-half possession, but were unable to exploit this advantage and had to settle for a 1-all stalemate at halftime.
Deon Hotto, Pirates’ Namibian international striker, opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a cheeky backheel after the visitors’ defence made a hash of trying to clear a cross into the goalmouth from the right flank. Midfielder Linda Mntambo picked up a shallow clearance. He fed Hotto, who was taken by surprise but back-heeled the ball into the net.
The goal helped Hotto and Mntambo to atone for wasted scoring chances earlier on.
Enyimba, with 29% first-half possession, was forced to play a defensive role for long spells, but they proved to be penetrative when attacking down the flanks. They, however, opted for speculative long-range scoring efforts, but their shots were mostly wayward.
In the added first-half injury time, Enyimba managed to equalise from the penalty spot through Nigerian international midfielder Augustine Odalapo. Pirates’ goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was blown up for a foul.
On either side of the halftime break, Pirates and Enyimba had close-in free-kicks but failed to make their set-piece efforts count.
After Mabaso’s fluffed penalty attempt in the 75th minute Pirates kept up the pressure and gained reward with a goal in the dying minutes of the match.