Orlando Pirates returned to winning ways when they recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Al Ahli Benghazi in the Caf Confederation Cup match on Sunday evening.
Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Tshegofatso Mabasa grabbed first-half goals, before Kabelo Dlamini extended the Soweto giants’ lead after the restart in a Group A match at Orlando Stadium.
The Buccaneers were winless in two competitive matches and they were looking to boost their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals by securing a victory at home.
Dlamini, Mabasa, Deon Hotto and Happy Jele were recalled to the starting line-up as coach Josef Zinnbauer made four changes to the team which faced and drew 0-0 with Al Ahli in Benghazi last week.
Meanwhile, the Butchers were hoping to record their second victory in the group stage and they were undefeated in two competitive matches.
Murad Al Wuheeshi, whose goalkeeping heroics frustrated Pirates in the reverse fixture, was missing and he was replaced by 19-year-old goalkeeper Zuber Ateya in the starting line-up.
Al Ahli adopted a defensive approach as they sat back and allowed Pirates to do most of the attacking in the opening proceedings with Fortune Makaringe seeing a lot of the ball in midfield.
The Buccaneers opted to play long balls in behind the Butchers’ defence with Jele’s ball from the back, which was meant for Frank Mhango, being gathered by Ateya, who caught the ball at the second attempt.
Makaringe then tried to find Hotto with a lobbed pass, but Ateya came out rushing and he snatched the ball before the Namibia international could pounce and score.
However, Ateya was beaten in the 26th minute when Ntsikelelo Nyauza scored to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead after pouncing on a loose ball with Al Ahli having failed to clear their lines following a corner-kick.
The Buccaneers did not take their foot off the pedal after taking the lead as Mabasa used his imposing physique to unsettle the Butchers’ defence and he managed to double the hosts’ lead.
The 26-year-old centre forward hit the back of the net with a glancing header after connecting with a Hotto’s corner-kick and Pirates were deservedly leading 2-0 at the interval after dominating the first half.
Pirates continued from where they left off in the first half as they pressed the Al Ahli defence with Dlamini using his mesmerising dribbling skills to cut open the visitors’ defence.
The left-footed player playmaker put his name on the score sheet in the 69th minute when he scored from the rebound after Mabasa’s shot was saved by Ateya to extend Pirates’ lead to 3-0.