Free State Stars defeated Orlando Pirates 3-2 at James Motlatsi Stadium on Saturday evening.
Goals inside the first half hour from Moeketsi Sekola, Paulus Masehe and Mohammed Anas saw Ea Lla Koto to a victory which lifts them out of the relegation zone and into 13th place on 22 points.
The Buccaneers, who scored through an own goal and Tendai Ndoro, remain in 11th place on the log on 23 points.
Stars claimed the lead with a brilliantly-taken goal as early as the fourth minute: Nhlanhla Vilakazi picked out a great pass for Moeketsi Sekola, who controlled the long ball beautifully before firing past Benson Mhlongo to make it 1-0.
Nine minutes later former Orlando Pirates player Paulus Masehe made it 2-0. The veteran Ea Lla Koto skipper scored with a glancing header from Sinethemba Jantjie’s free kick delivery to put the hosts in complete control.
Stars twice claim close to claiming a third goal within the opening 20 minutes, as Mohammed Anas poked a shot wide when he had only Mhlongo to beat, while Jantjie very nearly scored a brilliant solo goal which bounced off the top of the crossbar.
Pirates got one back midway through the first half: Thembinkosi Lorch’s shot was deflected off a defender, cleared off the line by Rooi Mahamutsa, only for the ball to rebound again off the back of goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni and cross the line for an own goal.
But just when Bucs thought they were back in the game, Anas scored a magnificent goal with a shot from outside the box which nestled in the top corner - 3-1 to Ea Lla Koto inside 29 minutes.
Pirates again fought back in the dying stages of the first half to make it 3-2: Oupa Manyisa was brought down in the box by Makhehlene Makhaula and Tendai Ndoro converted from the spot for his first goal in 2017.
The second half lacked the fluency and goal-mouth action of the first, but Stars should have extended their lead 20 minutes after the restart when they sprung the offside trap to hand Anas a tap-in from just a few yards out, but Mhlongo somehow smothered the ball with a brilliant low save.
Ea Lla Koto soon switched their approach to a more defensive mindset, with the introduction of Angelo Kerspuy in place of Anas with 12 minutes of regulation time remaining demonstrating a determination to hang onto their lead.
Free State Stars (3) 3 (Sekola 4’, Masehe 13’, Anas 29’)
Orlando Pirates (2) 2 (Ngobeni og 24’, Ndoro 45+4’ pen)
Stars: Ngobeni, Teyise, Masehe, Mahamutsa, Mbhele, Jantjie, Makhaula (Mashego 73’), Vilakazi, Dlamini (Maphakisa 85’), Sekola, Anas (Kerspuy 78’)
Pirates: Mhlongo, Nyauza, Jele, Gcaba, Matlaba, Lorch, Mobara (Sarr 74’), Manyisa, Wome (Gabuza 73’), Motupa (Memela 46’), Ndoro