Benni McCarthy netted a brace to help Orlando Pirates beat arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 3-2 in a highly-entertaining Premiership clash at a sold-out FNB Stadium on Saturday.
McCarthy’s two goals came in the first half of the match and moved the defending league champions into second place — with 36 points accumulated after 20 games.
Dominating the first 45 minutes, Pirates scored all three goals within the first 24 minutes as Chiefs’ defence were slow to react.
McCarthy was on target in the ninth and 24th minute and the veteran striker was also at hand for the side’s second goal.
He set up Ndumiso Mabena, who took a shot inside the box before the move was completed by Daine Klate in the 21st minute.
Pirates’ improved efforts
Chiefs, though, grafted their way back before the interval through talisman Siphiwe Tshabalala.
The Bafana Bafana striker turned inside the box to slot past Pirates’ goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs in the 32nd minute.
Substitute striker Lehlohonolo Majoro brought Amakhosi to within touching distance with a spectacular bicycle-kick from a corner after 70 minutes to make the scores 3-2.
It was a far improved effort for the Buccaneers after a lethargic 3-0 midweek loss to Santos — their first match under interim coach Augusto Palacios following the suspension of Julio Leal.
Tshabalala, back from injury after a month on the sidelines, seemed to carry his side and fashioned a shot outside the box which sailed narrowly over the bar.
However, it was Pirates who were superior in front of the 87 171 crowd and were more threatening in front of Itumeleng Khune’s goal with chances falling to Klate and Mabena.
Chiefs, who had been inactive for two weeks, started to find their footing in the final quarter of the opening half, and took the momentum with them into the second.
Amakhosi coach Vladimir Vermerzovic threw caution to the wind near the hour mark and brought on forwards Majoro and Lucky Khune to replace the ineffective duo of George Lebese and Mandla Masango.
Pirates had opted to beef up their midfield with the introduction of Thandani Ntshumayelo for Mabena early in the second stanza.
The hosts still made breaks going forward through Klate’s attempted lob which went over the crossbar and McCarthy, who was blocked by Lincoln Zvasiya in the dying moments as he attempted to blast a memorable hat-trick.
Tshabalala nearly forced a draw in the last minute for Chiefs though, as he sliced through the Pirates’ defence, but was let down by his first touch as Josephs easily collected.
Chiefs remain on 33 points after 20 matches and suffered their fourth loss of the campaign.
Head-to-head since the formation of the National Soccer League (now Premier Soccer league) in 1985, Chiefs still held the lead, having won 22 matches to Pirates’ 12 from 53 games played. — Sapa