McCarthy seals second consecutive PSL title for Pirates
Orlando Pirates were crowned Premiership champions for a second successive season on Saturday after two second-half goals from Benni McCarthy helped complete a thrilling 4-2 victory over Golden Arrows in Durban.
The Buccaneers, who secured their sixth trophy in two seasons, finished two points clear of Moroka Swallows to win the league crown.
Having opened the scoring through a Lucky Lekgwathi header after 26 minutes, Pirates were stunned by two goals within three minutes to fall behind.
Dillon Sheppard’s long-range effort went through the hands of goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, followed by a fine long-range free kick by Katlego Mashego.
But another dynamic header, this time by former Arrows defender Siyabonga Sangweni, drew the visitors level at 2-2 at half time.
After the restart, Augusto Palacios’ men showed more desire and McCarthy put them back in front with a 61st-minute header, before sealing the win with a stoppage-time free kick.
Pirates looked a touch nervous early on as they struggled to get hold of the ball and conceded a string of free kicks.
They were almost punished from open play after 10-minutes when Siyabonga Nkosi beat Rooi Mahamutsa easily on the left side of the box and drove towards goal where his shot from a tight angle was blocked by Josephs.
Six minutes later the visitors were saved by the right upright after Mzivukile Tom crossed harmlessly from the left to the back post, where Thabo Matlaba made a hash of his clearance much to the relief of the throng of Pirates supporters.
Using their heads
The Buccaneers finally carved out their first chance midway through the half when Tlou Segolela crossed to the near post from the left, but Thulasizwe Mbuyane pushed his shot just wide.
The game then turned on its head when Pirates went in front thanks to a superb header from Lekgwathi at the near post after a teasing cross from Segolela on the right.
But Arrows hit straight back courtesy of an error from Josephs, who failed to gather a straightforward ball after Sheppard struck from 20 metres out.
Mashego curled the ball expertly with his left foot to settle his free kick from the right into the top corner as they moved ahead.
A shell-shocked Pirates tried desperately to hit back with Maritzburg goalkeeper Helton da Rocha denying Mbuyane and McCarthy with splendid close-range saves, before Sangweni equalised five minutes before the break.
Daine Klate provided the goal as his cross from the right touchline into the centre of the box was headed in by Sangweni.
Pirates showed more intent after the break and were duly rewarded after the hour mark when Mahamutsa’s long throw from the right was headed in by McCarthy.
Play was held up for close to five minutes in the closing stages due to a head injury to Siyanda Zwane, and with seven minutes of stoppage time added, McCarthy curled in a free kick to cap the win.—Sapa.