Pirates left licking their wounds
Bloemfontein Celtic added to Orlando Pirates' woes when they came from behind to beat the Soweto giants 3-1 in a Castle Premiership match played at Vodacom Park on Sunday afternoon.
It was a fast-paced match throughout, with both teams going on attack and playing an open game of football.
Celtic threatened the Pirates goal-mouth in the 18th minute after Patrick Malokase volleyed over the bar. Their next attack saw some fine inter-passing between the Celtic players in the 19th minute, but defender Thabiso Rammile shot wide, with his weaker right foot.
In the 20th minute, Celtic captain John Maduka put Kleinbooi Taaibos through on the left flank, but his cross was headed straight into Pirates goalkeeper Avril Pahali's clutches by Lebogang Kukame.
The visiting Pirates absorbed all the pressure and hit back strongly when they went 1-0 up in the 29th minute through a fine finish by midfield dynamo Benedict Vilakazi. Celtic, however, almost equalised for the home side in the 31st minute - but this time Kukame could not connect with Taaibos' cross.
Pressure from the Celtic attackers led to a scramble in the Pirates goal area after Phali spilled the ball into the path of Moses Spandeel in the 35th minute, but Phali quickly recovered the ball to avert further danger.
Vilakazi could have increased 'Bucs' lead in the 43rd minute, but he ballooned his shot over the bar, after a fine counter-attack move by Pirates.
Phali's goal was threatened once again in the 46th minute, after a long throw by Spandeel fell into the parth of Taaibos, but he shot tamely at the Pirates goal and Phali held on, with his team leading 1-0 at the break.
The 'Bucaneers' sat back in the second half and this gave Celtic the opportunity to attack - a situation which fell right into the home side's hands.
Taaibos was again in the thick of things in the 55th minute, but he shot over the goals.
The home side was rewarded eventually, however, when Ntokozo Skhakhane converted with a spectacular 30-yard shot in the 70th minute to level the score 1-1.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic brought on attacking players Lebogang Mokoena and Stanton Fredericks to grab the win, but it was Celtic's substitute, Petros Mahlatsi, who made an impact by grabbing a late brace to fire his team into the lead and then hammering the final nail into Pirates' coffin.
Mahlatsi scored his first goal in the 84th minute after a fantastic counter-attack by Celtic to put the home-team 2-1 up.
The substitute was on target again six minutes later when he tapped in to make the score 3-1, after Spandeel redirected a fine cross across the face of goal, leaving Phali helplessly clutching the air and handing the men from Bloem a fine, and timely, victory.
For Pirates it's back to the drawing board, however, with their title hopes taking another massive hit.