Andrea Pirlo was afforded a rapturous welcome from the New York City faithful as he came off the bench to make his MLS bow in their 5-3 win over Orlando City.
The legendary Italian was introduced 12 minutes into the second half of Sunday’s match at Yankee Stadium with his side leading 2-1 thanks to goals from David Villa and Javier Calle, which sandwiched Cyle Larin’s equaliser.
Pirlo exchanged pleasantries with former Milan team-mate and now-Orlando star Kaka and was cheered every time he touched the ball, as he treated the home fans to a typically classy passing display as he strolled effortlessly around the midfield.
Larin threatened to spoil the party when he levelled with his second goal of the game shortly after Pirlo’s arrival, but Villa’s 12th of the season restored New York’s advantage in the 67th minute.
Pirlo then had a hand in New York’s fourth goal, as he threaded a ball to Kwadwo Poku, who found Thomas McNamara before the 24-year-old lashed a left-footed shot high past Orlando goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Larin completed his hat-trick with a brilliant toe-poked finish five minutes from time, before Kaka hit the post with a free-kick in injury time and Mikkel Diskerud’s breakaway goal made sure Pirlo enjoyed a winning MLS debut.