A late goal against Free State Stars sealed a 2-1 win for Orlando Pirates in the final Premiership game of the season at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Ntsikelelo Nyauza opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. Nhlanhla Vilakazi equalised for Ea Lla Koto on 51 minutes but Thamsanqa Gabuza popped up with 86 minutes played to snatch all three points for the runners-up in the league.
Pirates were looking to send the Ghost home happy on the final day after slipping up against Cape Town City in their penultimate match of the campaign as Stars eyed a good performance ahead of the Nedbank Cup final.
It was Xola Mlambo who threatened first with a header at the back post that he could only direct straight at Thela Ngobeni.
And the opener arrived midway through the first half when Nyauza rose highest at a corner to head past Ngobeni.
Augustine Mulenga drew a comfortable save out of Ngobeni with a looping shot from the edge of the box, before Justin Shonga fired wide of the target from close range nine minutes before the break.
Stars’ best chance saw Siphelele Mthembu steer a header just over the crossbar from Patrick Phungwayo’s cross.
Ea Lla Koto levelled just six minutes after the restart when some open defending allowed Vilakazi to fire past Sandilands.
Goodman Dlamini went close to handing Stars the lead on 64 minutes, but Sandilands was equal to the task as he saved the midfielder’s effort.
The visitors suffered a setback 20 minutes from time when Ngobeni was forced off through injury, with Badra Ali Sangare taking his place in goal.
Bucs, meanwhile, had introduced Gabuza from the bench and the substitute made an almost immediate impact as he scored on the rebound four minutes from time after Sangare parried Shonga’s initial strike.