Pirates end cup drought

Defender Lucky Lekgwathi buried the decisive spot-kick past Nigerian goalie Greg Etafia that earned Orlando Pirates a 4-2 penalties victory over Moroka Swallows in the MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last night.

The match ended 1-1 after extra time.

In so doing the Buccaneers ended seven long years without a major trophy since their league title victory of 2003.

Swallows’ hero of their 3-2 semifinal victory over Ajax Cape Town, Siyabonga Nomvethe, blasted his penalty over the bar, while Kagiso Mashishi saw his effort saved by Moeneeb Josephs.

Keegan Richie and Roger da Costa were successful with their spot-kicks for the Birds.

All Pirates’ kickers – Daine Klate, Katlego Mashego, Isaac Chansa and Lekgwathi – impressively buried their penalties.

Pirates were the team in the ascendancy in the first half and engineered a deserved 1-0 lead against a nervous Swallows – who seemed overawed by the occasion and were too loose – via the penalty spot by Klate.

But Birds worked hard to close the gap in the second half.

Coach Rudi Krol’s decision to bring on midfielder Clifford Ngobeni for striker Ezenwa Otorogu and defend the one-goal lead from as early as the 77th minute almost backfired, as the never-say-die Birds snuck an 86th-minute equaliser by Morgan Shivambu.

Roared on by a mostly Buccaneers crowd, Pirates pushed hard for an early opener.

In the 18th minute Bucs’ pressure paid off when Otorogu was put through on goal and Birds goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe brought the Bucs forward down.

Referee Faiek Daniels pointed to the spot and Klate rolled his penalty past Mathibe for the match’s 19th-minute opener.

Swallows came close to pulling one back when Josephs had to save Nomvethe’s header almost at point-blank from Richie’s freekick.

But it was mostly still one-way traffic to the men in white.

In the 27th minute Thulasizwe Mbuyane was in space inside the area again to draw a diving save from Mathibe.

With four minutes to the break defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele dallied too long on the ball in his own area, allowing Klate to steal possession, with Mathibe getting just enough of a touch on the shot to steer it inches wide.

Swallows showed some of the fighting spirit that has been their hallmark this season to produce the best early chance of the second half.

Nomvethe did well to get on the end of defender Phaladi Kobola’s speculative cross from deep and force a save from Josephs.

Pirates had lost some momentum, which Krol hoped to regain with the 67th-minute introduction of Katlego Mashego and supersub Tlou Segolela.

The move worked to an extent, as it restored an advantage to Pirates after a period when the Birds had been threatening.

But Swallows have shown time and again this season that they cannot be written off.

With Bucs seemingly in control, Shivambu got the faintest flick-on to Gareth Ncaca’s freekick to beat Josephs in the 86th minute and send the game into extra time.

With Pirates out of ideas, and lacking the ingenuity they had displayed in the first half, and Swallows plucky but not overly creative, extratime drifted.

Isaac Chansa’s effort from range blazed closest, while a Mashego effort was straight at Etafia, who had replaced Mathibe at halftime.

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