MARITZBURG United have pulled off a major upset, beating Orlando Pirates 2-1 at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, but not without controversy.
Benni McCarthy’s opening goal was cancelled out by two second half goals by Diyo Sibisi and Mor Diouf.
McCarthy struck in the 24th minute when he slotted home a Thulasizwe Mbuyane cross form the left flank. But the former Bafana Bafana striker was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 45th minute.
This forced Pirates to play the entire second half with just ten men.
Maritzburg, now with a spring in their step, replied after 49 minutes when an in-swinging corner from Felix Obada to the near post was slotted into the bottom right corner of goal Sibisi.
And in the 77th minute, Diouf, the big Senegalese centre back, headed home Peter Petersen’s cross from the flank.
It was Maritzburg goalkeeper Shuaib Walters who made the first real save of the game, when he parried a shot by Tlou Segolela following Mbuyane’s cross.
McCarthy’s goal he could do nothing about, but then Walters made a few good saves to keep the score down to just one and was definitely the busier of the two goalkeepers on the night.
But it was Maritzburg who turned possession into goals. The slightly overshadowed Pirates in the possession stakes – which would have been aided by the dismissal of McCarthy – and made it count in front of goal when they had their chances.
Even the introduction of rising star striker, Bongani Ndulula, could not find a second goal for Pirates.
He was brought in at the same time as crowd favourite Mark Mayambela, but neither could find an opening in the home side’s defence.
Maritzburg fought hard to hold onto their lead and make the most of their extra man advantage.
Maritzburg United (0) 2 (Sibisi 49 Diouf 77)
Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (McCarthy 24)
Maritzburg United: Walters – Petersen, Diouf, Hendricks, Morton (Matle 46) – Evans, Madondo, Olomu (Booysen 83), Obada – Sibisi, Davids (Ngwenya 66)
Orlando Pirates: Josephs – Lekgwathi, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Thwala (Cloete 87) – Segolela, Manyisa, Jali, Mbuyane (Ndulula 73) – Mabena (Mayambela 73), McCarthy-Backpagepix