Thembinkosi Lorch played a starring role as Orlando Pirates thrashed Maritzburg United 4-1 to keep their CAF Champions League hopes alive.

Result: Orlando Pirates 4-1 Maritzburg United

Date: 24 May 2022

Venue: Orlando Stadium

Pirates were unchanged after their CAF Confederation Cup final defeat on penalties against RSB Berkane, as Thembinkosi Lorch continued in the attack alongside Kwame Peprah and Deon Hotto.

Maritzburg played a high line in the opening exchanges and should have been punished in the eighth minute after Lorch beat the offside trap to go clear on goal but he fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt, before the former PSL Footballer of the Year rattled the frame of the goal minutes later from the edge of the box.

However, the Bafana Bafana forward eventually broke the deadlock in the 21st minute as he perfectly picked out the far corner a neat finish after a ball over the top by Hotto.

Pirates skipper Happy Jele was unfortunate not to double their lead on the half-hour mark with a free header in the box that crashed against the bottom post after a cross by Hotto from a corner.

The Team of Choice continued to offer the Buccaneers space behind their defence as they threatened to come back into the game, but they went 2-0 down just before the halftime break when Lorch’s pass found Peprah, who fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The sides settled into a passing rhythm early in the second stanza but Pirates were too quick for United, as Hotto made it 3-0 for Pirates on the hour-mark with a strike past Engelhardt in the box after he beat the offside trap from Lorch’s cross.

As the game opened up, Friday Samu pulled a goal back for Ernst Middendorp’s charges just after that with a close-range finish after a square pass by Brandon Theron.

However, Kabelo Dlamini restored a three-goal lead for the Soweto giants 21 minutes before time with a diagonal strike beyond the reach of Engelhardt, who was out of his area, into a gaping net after he also broke the line from Lorch’s pass.

Pirates introduced fresh legs a couple of minutes later with a double change as Tshegofatso Mabasa replaced Peprah and Fortune Makaringe came on for Dlamini.

Mabasa could have added a fifth goal for the hosts in the last nine minutes after he went though in the box but his snap shot was parried away by Engelhardt from point-blank range.

Pirates looked to boost their goal difference further in the dying minutes but the four goals were enough to take them up to sixth on the log, six points behind second-placed Cape Town City with two games in hand.

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