Johannesburg (AFP) – Full-back Ntsikelelo Nyauza scored with a powerful header as South African club Orlando Pirates reached the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finals on Sunday with a 2-0 win over JS Saoura in Algeria.
Nyauza struck on 48 minutes and Kabelo Dlamini doubled the lead just three minutes later with a clinical side-footed finish at the national stadium in Algiers.
There was no way back for Saoura even after Pirates were reduced to 10 men 14 minutes from time when Goodman Mosele was sent off after being yellow-carded twice.
Midfielder Mosele, who is in the South Africa squad for a friendly against world champions France in Lille on March 29, should have been red-carded earlier for deliberately kicking an opponent.
The fiery matchday 5 Group B clash threatened to get out of control several times with both clubs desperately seeking maximum points.
Pirates have 12 points, Al Ittihad of Libya 10, Saoura seven and Royal Leopard of Eswatini none ahead of the final matches on April 3.
Leopard led Ittihad in Benghazi before losing 3-2 as Libyan international Sanad al Warfali scored his second goal of a thriller in the third minute of added time.
If Pirates beat Ittihad in Soweto, Saoura will squeeze through on head-to-head records by defeating Leopard, who stage home games in South Africa because their ground does not meet international standards.
The winners and runners-up in the four groups advance to the knockout phase in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League, which Raja Casablanca of Morocco won last season.
Pirates were among four clubs to qualify on Sunday with Al Masry of Egypt, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya also ensuring top-two finishes in their groups.
– ASEC outclass Simba –
Pyramids of Egypt, who were runners-up and semi-finalists in the last two editions, secured a last-eight place seven days ago.
Ittihad or Saoura will fill one of the remaining three places with the others going to the winners and runners-up in an intriguing Group D.
ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast outclassed visiting Simba of Tanzania 3-0 and Renaissance Berkane of Morocco snatched a last-gasp 2-2 draw at Gendarmerie Nationale of Niger in Group D.
The results leave all four teams with a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals as ASEC have nine points, Berkane and Simba seven each and Gendarmerie five.
Berkane, the 2020 Confederation Cup winners, host ASEC and Simba will have home advantage against Gendarmerie in the final round.
Pyramids surrendered the last unbeaten record in the competition when going down 1-0 to Ahly Tripoli in Benghazi, where Omar Gaber conceded an own goal early in the second half.
Record three-time Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia needed maximum points from the other Group A match, against Zanaco of Zambia in Lusaka, to stay in contention but fell 1-0 to a Boyd Musonda goal.
Masry remained top of Group C through a 2-0 victory over Coton Sport of Cameroon in Alexandria, where Mohamed Latif and Ahmed Alaa scored before and after half-time.
Five-time African champions Mazembe led twice against Otoho Oyo of Congo Brazzaville in a 2-2 draw and host Masry in matchday 6 with first place on the line.
In the quarter-finals, group winners face a runner-up from one of the other three sections.
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