Pirates thrash Royal Leopards to storm top of Group B

Orlando Pirates came from two goals down to thrash eSwatini’s Royal Leopards 6-2 in Manzini on Sunday and storm top of Group B in the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.

The Bucaneers found themselves with a two goal deficit after seven minutes of the game, but an own goal after 20minutes started off the comeback for the South African giants.

The victory was Pirates’ second in the group and it takes them to six points, two ahead of second placed JS Saoura who earlier on drew 1-1 with Al Ittihad of Libya in Benghazi. Pirates have lost once, their away trip to Libya last weekend coming off with a 3-2 defeat.

General Views during the CAF Confederation Cup 202122 game between Royal Leopards and Orlando Pirates at Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga, South Africa on 27 February 2022 (2)

In Manzini, the South African giants were stunned going 2-0 down after just seven minutes. Mzwandile Mabelesa gave Leopards the lead after five minutes with a shot from inside the box that ricocheted off a forest of bodies in the box before going in.

Two minutes later, Thabiso Mokenkoane made it 2-0 for the home side when he scored a looping header from a Maseko Mancoba cross.

Pirates were stunned, but kept their composure. They halved the deficit in the 20th minute when Machawe Dlamini scored into his own net as he tried to cut out a cross from the left.

General Views during the CAF Confederation Cup 202122 game between Royal Leopards and Orlando Pirates at Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga, South Africa on 27 February 2022

The visitors grew in confidence and in the 38th minute, they were level after Bandile Shandu calmly controlled a beautiful pass from Dean Hotto before slotting home.

They went to the break 3-2 up when Hotto played provider again, this time floating an inviting cross that was headed home by Kwame Peprah unmarked inside the box.

In the second half, they did not relent on their pressure and in the 57th minute they were 4-2 up when Happy Jele got on the scoresheet with an angled header inside the box.

Three minutes later, they scored the fifth goal, this time Kabelo Dlamini calmly controlling Thembinkosi Lorch’s pass before shooting low into the bottom right.

Pirates completed the rout in the 80th minute, substitute Terrence Dzvukamanja picking Peprah’s through ball before calmly slotting it past the keeper.

While Pirates moved top of the pile, Leopards’ hopes of a historic qualification to the last eight now hangs by a thin thread after back to back defeats that leave them bottom of the pile with no point.

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