Pirates reach Nedbank Cup final

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iol spt may4 Pirates-Maritzburg Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images Orlando Pirates will face Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup final after a decisive eight-minute second-half spell helped the Soweto giants overcome Maritzburg United. Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Pietermaritzburg – Orlando Pirates will face Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup final after a decisive eight-minute second-half spell helped the Soweto giants overcome Maritzburg United 2-1 at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday night.

After a goalless opening period, an own goal from Mario Booysen put the Buccaneers in front after 52 minutes, before Mpho Makola's rifling long-range effort doubled the advantage on the hour.

The hosts pulled a goal back when substitute Terrance Mandaza scored from inside the box after 73 minutes, but Vladamir Vermezovic's men held on to reach a fourth final of the season.

Pirates began with a bang as Makola found himself in a brilliant position just inside the box in the opening minute, but failed to connect Thabo Matlaba's left-side cross cleanly, allowing Virgil Vries to gather easily.

Maritzburg's response was for Frank Sarfy-Gyamfi to burst down the right after a quick counter-attack, only to be denied by a last-ditch Rooi Mahamutsa tackle in the box.

Oupa Manyisa and Daine Klate then had half-chances as the frantic start continued, with Vries forced into the first big save of the clash after 14 minutes when he saved a point-blank strike by Klate after a Kermit Erasmus cross to the near post.

After Makola and Matlaba had further shots in quick succession, the hosts created their best opening of the half when Ruben Cloete and Thamsanqa Mkhize interchanged quick passes on the left, before the latter delivered a searching low cross that Mandaza got to a second late.

Matlaba drew plenty of 'oohs' from the crowd on the half-hour after excellently turning his man on the edge of the box and sending a dipping shot inches over.

More Pirates pressure before the interval resulted in a routine free-kick, where the set-piece was laid to Manyisa on the edge of the box, and the ball rifled low into the palms of Vries, who gathered on the second attempt.

After the restart, Klate curled a superb free-kick inches wide of the top left-hand corner, before the decisive passage of the game came before the hour.

The Buccaneers first hit the lead after 52 minutes thanks to Booysen, although the defender was unlucky as there was no chance of getting out of the way after Vries tipped an Erasmus shot onto the crossbar with the ball dropping on the line.

The lead was doubled shortly after as Makola shot powerfully beyond Vries to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb.

Manyisa then missed a chance to add a third when he blazed over from eight metres after Vries pushed the ball into his path in saving a Klate free-kick.

United gave themselves hope with 17 minutes to play as Mandaza soundly tucked away a Ashley Hartog cross from the right with a sharp turn and shot.

Zimbabwean Mandaza did have one big chance in stoppage time, but he was rushed and dragged wide as the visitors held on.– Sapa


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