Pirates still in with a chance of second place after big win against Maritzburg
Orlando Pirates kept their chances of qualifying for the Caf Champions League alive with their emphatic 4-1 DStv Premiership victory over Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night.
Pirates' goals were scored by Thembinkosi Lorch (21st minute), who was in sublime form, Kwame Peprah (42nd), Deon Hotto (60th) and Kabelo Dlamini (69th) while Friday Samu (63rd) scored for the Team of Choice.
Pirates, who still have two games to play, can finish second if they win all their remaining games as they boast a healthy goal difference compared to second-placed Cape Town City.
After missing a penalty that cost the Bucs their only chance to win silverware this season in the Confederation Cup against RS Berkane on Friday, Lorch played like someone who had a point to prove. The 2019 PSL Footballer of the Season was a menace to the Maritzburg defence for most of the night and was involved in all Pirates' four goals.
Pirates came out looking like they wanted to get off to a fast start, and with the intent to get an early goal.
Lorch almost broke the deadlock on eight minutes when he received a good pass from Bandile Shandu that put the Pirates forward free against United goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt and the shot-stopper producing a good save.
Lorch had another opportunity two minutes later where he was able to beat Engelhardt but was denied by an upright.
The first goal was finally scored by Lorch after 21 minutes from a long pass forward by Hotto. Maritzburg only have themselves to blame for the strike as they tried to set up an offside trap for Lorch but failed.
Bucs skipper Happy Jele almost doubled the lead when his header narrowly missed the target on the half-hour mark. Bucs’ relentless attack spearheaded by Lorch's running provided the second as his low cross found Peprah to place a classy finish form the edge of the box.
Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp was clearly not impressed with the performance of his players as he made five substitutions at the start of the second half.
The German coach brought in Zukile Kewuti, Lelethu Skelem, Brandon Theron, Ryan Rae and Alfred Ndengane while Tawanda Macheke, Genino Palace, Keegan Ritchie, Nicholus Lukhubeni and Lucky Baloyi did not come back for the final 45 minutes.
But there was no immediate change to Maritzburg's performance as it was Pirates who continued the dominance they had shown in the first half.
Hotto also got his name on the scoresheet on the hour mark after he was set up by the impressive Lorch.
Zimbabwean attacker Samu pulled one back for Maritzburg three minutes later only for Dlamini to score the fourth goal for the hosts.
It was Lorch who set up Dlamini for the fourth goal as Pirates moved to sixth spot on the table with 43 points and six behind City.
The Buccaneers will now need victories against Royal AM in Durban on Friday and SuperSport United in Atteridgeville on Monday to end second.