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Orlando Pirates, Mazembe clinch crucial first leg wins in Confed Cup

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Orlando Pirates players celebrate their goal in a past match
  • Orlando Pirates won 2-0 away to Al Ahli of Libya
  • TP Mazembe scored late to beat Berkane 1-0
  • The second leg matches will be played this weekend

Orlando Pirates and TP Mazembe nudged crucial first leg wins to earn advantages in the semi-final of the CAF Confederation Cup over the weekend.

Mazembe scored late to win 1-0 at home against RS Berkane while Orlando Pirates earned a crucial 2-0 win away to Al Ahli Benghazi in Libya.

At the Benina Mrtyrs Stadium in Benghazi, first half goals from Innocent Maela and Goodman Mosele handed Orlando Pirates a vital 2-0 win on enemy territory.

The victory puts Pirates firmly in control of the tie and will only need to avoid defeat in the return tie in Johannesburg next weekend to earn their place in the final.

Despite being deprived of possession in the opening half, Pirates made the most of the little time they had with the ball.

They gave themselves an early eighth minute lead when Maela reacted quickest to head the ball home  after the Ahli keeper had punched Kwame Peprah’s initial header kindly into his path.

Ahli had the possession, passing the ball around the pack with ease, but they couldn’t unlock the water-tight Pirates defense. And, their fight was made even harder in the 29th minute when Mosele doubled the score with a brilliant effrt.

Mosele picked up the ball at the edge of the box off a Peprah cross, controlled with his first touch and fired a brilliant shot on the volley with his second for a 2-0 lead.

In the second half, the home side were up again on the front foot, but their biggest undoing was poor coordination in the final third.

Pirates had the chances and in the 58th minute, Dean Hotto should have punished Ahli with a third goal when he collected the ball behind the defense but his left footed shot one on one with the keeper was well saved.

In the 67th minute, Peprah flicked a long ball to Bandile Shandu, the latter going for an effort on the volley but the ball didn’t gather enough pace, the keeper making an easy save.

The closest Ahli came to scoring was in the 80th minute when substitute Mohamed Makkari tried an effort on the volley from the edge of the box, but it rolled wide.

The end of the match was delayed almost thrice due to power problems at the stadium, but Pirates held on to ensure they travel back home with a good edge in the fixture.

Ahli will now need a huge performance away from home next weekend, to keep their dream of a final alive.

Earlier on, John Bakata scored a 97th minute winner as Congolese giants Mazembe beat RS Berkane 1-0 in Lubumbashi ensured they head into the return tie next weekend, with a lace up in the bout.

It was an end to end tie between the two sides with chances to score for both. Defender Issoufou Dayo was the first to have a go at goal after three minutes but his effort didn’t bear fruits.

On the other end, Mazembe also had a chance but Philippes Kinzumbi could not beat the keeper with a close opportunity.

The visitors had more chances on the break with Hamza El Moussaoui and Mamadou Lamine Camara coming close, but there was nothing to separate the two sides heading into the half-time break.

It was the same case in the second half, this time Mazembe having the bigger chunk of chances. Jephte Kitambala saw his effort foiled by the keeper in the 46th minute while Glody Likonza had a rasping header also kept out by the keeper.

But their pressure bore fruit in the sixth minute of added time when Bakata flew in with a sweet header to connect to a cross from Likonza.

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