In the first league match under Covid-19 protocols, the two sides went into the break at even stevens but that was not for a lack of effort.
Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana made a surging run into Wayne Sandilands’ box, sending his marker to the cleaners before Pirates skipper Happy Jele came to the rescue and seemed to have handled the ball, prompting Kekana and his teammates to appeal for a penalty but referee Victor Gomes waved play on.
In the opposite end, Vincent Pule was the one at the end of the Buccaneers’ attacks but all his attempts were not good enough to trouble Denis Onyango.
The second stanza began in similar fashion as the first-half and the tempo of the game went up a notch round about the hour-mark when Fortune Makaringe navigated through Downs’ defence to unleash a shot that beat Onyango but could not find the back of the net as the upright came to the rescue of the defending champions.
Pirates were without two of their influential players in Thembinkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga, who were suspended from the squad after they breached the club’s Covid-19 protocols ahead of reporting to the Biologically Safe Environment (BSE) this past Sunday. The duo is set to face disciplinary proceedings and will have to take two Covid-19 tests each before entering the BSE.
Pirates’ next appointment is a visit to Ellis Park this Saturday where they will take on Bidvest Wits while the Brazilians are going up against Highlands Park this coming Friday at the Dobsonville Stadium.