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Orlando Pirates lifted the Carling Black Label Cup, beating arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 5-4 on penalties in front of a record crowd at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
Pirates converted their shootout strikes through Rooi Mahamutsa, Oupa Manyisa, Daine Klate, Siyabonga Sangweni and Ndumiso Mabena.
An effort from regular time hero Benni McCarthy was saved by Arthur Bartman, while Siyanda Gcaba’s kick came off the woodwork.
Chiefs converted through Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Kaizer Motaung Junior, Josta Dladla and Kingston Nkhatha, while Lincoln Zvasiya, Siyabonga Nkosi and Keegan Ritchie all missed.
Ironically, Ritchie also fluffed the deciding kick in the competition’s first installment last season, when Pirates had also prevailed on penalties.
However, the Buccaneers snatched the intense clash from Amakhosi’s grasp this time around, with Chiefs seconds away from winning the trophy.
In front of 92 702 spectators at the Nasrec venue, Chiefs had taken an early lead through Abia Nale who netted in the 10th minute from a George Lebese supply from the left flank, with the Pirates defence caught napping.
McCarthy then headed in an injury time equaliser with the last play of the match from a Daine Klate corner kick.
The highly anticipated Soweto Derby clash again called for fans - and not the respective coaches – to vote for the starting line-ups and a substitution to be made in each team.
While the match itself was far from a classic, with players still searching for match fitness, it produced moments of entertainment.
Chiefs showed some enterprising play but were guilty of holding on to the ball, while they showed they could be a threat with cohesion when on the counter-attack.
There were early moments when striker Lehlohonolo Majoro proved to be a threat to wingback Lizo Mjempu, who had been a late addition to the starting line-up after Thabo Matlaba fell ill.
Pirates, meanwhile, were sluggish in the first stanza with expectations heaped on last season’s successive treble winners.
They had a sparkling start to the match, with McCarthy finding space to manoeuvre a shot in the opening seconds, but they dropped down a notch before they clawed back with chances shortly before the interval.
Mark Mayambela, in a rare start for the club, managed to sneak in a shot that narrowly went over Itumeleng Khune’s crossbar.
Fellow winger Sifiso Myeni placed a telling cross that was timely cleared by Tefu Mashamaite with McCarthy lurking behind.
The second half fizzled with both sides making a number of substitutions.
Both sets of keepers - Khune for Chiefs and Pirates’ Moeneeb Josephs - were substituted with Arthur Bartman and Senzo Meyiwa, respectively, shortly before the hour mark.
Both Bartman and Meyiwa went on to each save a spot kick. - Sapa