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Lifa Hlongwane. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGE PIX
Lifa Hlongwane. Picture: MUZI NTOMBELA/BACKPAGE PIX

TS Galaxy took a giant leap out of relegation danger after they beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 at Mbombela Stadium on Monday.

Lifa Hlongwane scored one of the easiest and softest of goals to take the Rockets to 13th on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) standings on 26 points, eight points away from automatic relegation, with three matches remaining.

For Pirates, the defeat represents despair as their hopes of second spot on the log and returning to the Caf Champions League are going up in smoke.

It is also the third PSL game in a row in which the Buccaneers failed to score after barren draws against bottom club Baroka and another relegation-threatened side, Chippa United, in their previous two matches.

With 40 points from 27 matches, Pirates remain five points behind second-placed Royal AM, who have played a game less and are looking good to hold on to their spot and join champions Mamelodi Sundowns as SA’s two representatives in the Caf Champions League.

Pirates’ target of finishing second is not only looking increasingly distant, they could also fail to finish third and qualify for the lesser Caf Confederation Cup as they remain four points behind third-placed Cape Town City, who have a game in hand.

Pirates were first to get out of the blocks and dominated the first half, but as it has been for the better part of their campaign, dominance did not translate into goals.

Galaxy adopted a cautious approach and looked to hit Pirates on the counter and got their reward in the 33rd minute when Lindokuhle Mbatha toyed with Bucs captain Happy Jele before pulling the ball back for Hlongwane to easily tap into an empty net.

Pirates intensified their game in the second half and put Galaxy under sustained pressure with several attempts at goal, mostly wide and too close to the goalkeeper when on target.

Galaxy will travel south to play Cape Town City in their next match on Saturday while Pirates will be on the road to Chatsworth for a confrontation with Royal.

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