Johannesburg – Drama reigned at the soaked Charles Mopeli Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Kaizer Chiefs squeezed into the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout courtesy of a 4-2 win in a penalty shoot-out.
The teams had finished level at 1-1 after extra-time, but it was Stars who had the game in the palm of their hand while leading 1-0 with only three minutes of the scheduled 90 minutes remaining.
Then, with Chiefs supporters in the crowd literally praying, Stars' defence were caught napping while allowing Siboniso Gaxa's pin-point cross to be headed into the net by Knowledge Musona for a last-gasp equaliser.
Ironically, in the circumstances, Stars had been poised to march into the final four of the competition via the penalty issue after the 70th minute penalty by Chiefs' Bernard Parker had been saved by Daniel Agyei - only for the Free State team to be awarded a penalty themselves five minutes later for Togolese international Sadat Ouro-Akoriko to open the score.
The game, which took place in stormy, windy conditions throughout, also exploded into scenes of violence following Parker's penalty miss.
The ball had bounced clear after Agyei's save, before the Stars' goalkeeper desperately regained possession.
But a frustrated Parker went through with a crunching kick in the direction of the ball and kicked the Stars goalkeeper with a vicious blow instead.
Almost the entire Stars line-up then accosted Parker while demanding he be sent off the pitch, with tempers only cooling down after the Chiefs striker had been yellow-carded.
Ten minutes later Parker was seen in better light when a swerving 25-metre shot struck the crossbar for what would have been an equaliser.
This do-or-die goal for Chiefs emerged seven minutes later, but only after Stars missed a golden opportunity of securing a 2-0
lead. Stars dithered needlessly after Chiefs defenders had moved upfield and left goalkeeper Khune totally exposed, but the keeper made a desperate dash from his goal to barely make a fearless save with his feet.
The Chiefs and Bafana captain also made two saves in the decisive penalty shoot-out - although Stars two opening spot-kicks were of a largely innocuous nature.
The game, by and large, took place between two well-matched sides and was fast and furious, with neither giving or asking for any quarter in the awkward, slippery conditions.
However, with cramp setting in during extra-time, both sides were forced into making changes.
Stars coach Steve Komphela added to the drama when he surprisingly tried to make a goalkeeping substitution before the penalty shoot-out and taking the gallant Agyei off the field at the most crucial moment.
The referee, however, ruled that Komphela's attempt substitution was announced too late and Agyei saw off the game to the bitter end.
He failed to save any of the four penalties taken by Chiefs, but this was not the deciding factor, with the game ultimately decided by the poor spot-kicks of his teammates. – Sapa