McCarthy brace seals Pirates another title

Veteran striker Benni McCarthy scored twice in the second half to earn Orlando Pirates a 4-2 win at Golden Arrows Saturday and a second consecutive South African Premiership title.

Moroka Swallows won 1-0 at Maritzburg United to finish runners-up two points behind after a thrilling climax to the league.

Pirates needed maximum points to be assured of a fourth Premiership crown and after taking a first-half lead through a header from centre-back and captain Lucky Lekgwathi, they conceded two goals within three minutes.

Goalkepeer Moeneeb Josephs allowed a speculative shot from midfielder Dillon Sheppard to slip past him into the net and he was then beaten by a superb free kick from former Pirate Katlego Mashego.

A feature of Pirates 11-match unbeaten run to the end of the season has been their never-say-die spirit and this came to the fore again before half-time as ex-Arrows centre-back Siyabonga Sangweni levelled with another headed goal.

McCarthy, a 34-year-old former South Africa star who returned home last year from West Ham United, nodded the Buccaneers in front on the hour mark off a long Rooi Mahamutsa throw. Arrows, a bottom-half team with only pride to play for, ran out of ideas after falling behind a second time and offered little going forward.

But the fear that the home team could sneak an equaliser and deprive the Soweto club of the title lingered until stoppage time when McCarthy lifted a free kick over the wall and Brazilian goalkeeper Helton da Rocha.

Success completed another great season for 1995 African champions Pirates, who won six of eight domestic titles between this season and last, and they will compete in the 2013 CAF Champions League.

Swallows finish second
Fellow Sowetans Swallows had to win and hope Pirates did not if they were to claim a first Premiership title and a second-half goal from captain and midfielder Lefa Tsutsulupa brought them victory at chilly Pietermaritzburg.

Although the games kicked off simultaneously, the Swallows game finished first and the players huddled in the centre circle praying for an Arrows equaliser only to discover that McCarthy had shattered those dreams.

SuperSport United won 2-1 at Bloemfontein Celtic thanks to goals from Kermit Erasmus and Sibusiso Zuma to finish third followed by Mamelodi Sundowns, whose 1-0 home victory over Free State Stars came from a late Samuel Juries goal.