Orlando Pirates win big but still second best
Orlando Pirates could not win the 2018-19 Absa Premiership, but they pushed Mamelodi Sundowns all the way and entertained every step of that path - as was the case in this win yesterday.
That would be scant consolation for their supporters, hungry for a first trophy since the 2014 Nedbank Cup.
The size of the crowd at Orlando Stadium reflected the odds against the Buccaneers to win the league; the famous ground was not packed to the rafters.
The Ghost had not turned out in maximum numbers to see Pirates lift a championship trophy for the first time since 2012.
Pirates ended runners-up to Sundowns for a second season. Last year it was by five points, this time two. Even if Sundowns are docked a point, it won't make a difference.
Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic made one change from the 2-2 draw away against Cape Town City last week. Augustine Mulenga came in at centre-forward for Justin Shonga.
Polokwane coach Jozef Vukusic surprised by not having three regulars - centreback Ayanda Nkili, midfielder Walter Musona and goalkeeper George Chigova - on the sheet.
Vukusic has had an impressive first season in the PSL and City have regularly punched above their weight, finishing fifth in the league.
But Pirates, having slipped in Cape Town, were uncompromising yesterday. But with Sundowns beating Free State Stars 1-0, it could have been 20-0 for all that it mattered.
Pirates had an early let-off from City's big, dangerous Mohammed Anas. From Mbulelo Wagaba's chip over, the mobile Ghanaian centre-forward got the touch past Wayne Sandilands, but wide of the upright.
In response, Pirates engaged top gear, soon carving out a 2-0 lead after just 20 minutes, then 3-0 by the break.
City were not overly poor. This was an instance where the attacking team mostly were too hard to stop in their mobility and pace of movement.
Lorch was all over City. Mulenga took a chip on his chest, turned and put Lorch through to beat offside and slot past goalkeeper Lehlohonolo Phali.
In a training-ground move, a corner was taken low to Pule, outside the area, who was quickly closed down. The ball was worked back to Pule, who turned and struck a beautiful, scorching 25-metre drive in at the top-left corner.
Bucs were running rampant. Lorch touched through Mulenga, who could not chip Phali. On a counterattack Pule put Lorch clear to shoot at Phali. A Mulenga header was excellently kept out by the goalkeeper.
Close to the break, Mulenga's chip found Lorch alone on goal again and he slipped a finish to make the game safe.
Of course, it was a more circumspect, cautiously probing Pirates who came out from the break.
From Monde Mphambaniso's low drive, looping off a Bucs foot, Polokwane substitute Bongile Booi headed onto the crossbar. Bucs then managed the game to a conclusion.
Orlando Pirates (3) 3
Polokwane City (0) 0
GOALS: Pirates - Thembinkosi Lorch (7m) and (42m); Vincent Pule (21m)