Cape Town City edged Bloemfontein Celtic 2-0 in a Telkom Knockout opening-round tie at the Cape Town Stadium, with both goals coming in the final six minutes of extra time.
But, really, overall, it was a game that was rather painful on the eye. From the opening whistle, you could have predicted it would turn into a lacklustre stalemate after the regulation 90 minutes, such was the bland monotony on show.
The best thing that happened in this match was the referee’s final whistle after 120 minutes, to end the misery on Wednesday night.
City are the first team through to the quarter-finals of the competition – but they’ll have to show vast improvement if they have any designs on making it further in the tournament.
After last weekend’s dismal display in a league defeat to Baroka FC, City coach Eric Tinkler vowed to ring the changes for the Cup tie.
If players aren’t performing, they must step aside, was Tinkler’s assertion – and so, to put his words into practice, in came Ebrahim Seedat, Austrian Roland Putsche, Robyn Johannes, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Thabo Nodada, Australian Matt Sim and Judas Moseamedi.
Putsche, who had been keen to make an impact, was the victim of a crude tackle from Celtic’s Alfred Ndengane as early as the third minute.
The Austrian shouldered on for a while, but eventually succumbed to the injury and was replaced by Mpho Matsi in the 17th minute.
For a Cup tie, though, it proved to be quite a pedestrian encounter. While City dominated possession, they lacked the creativity and cutting edge to pierce the Free State’s side’s defensive armour.
And, while the action may have appeared to be tactical, in truth, the overall quality of the match left a lot to be desired.
There was little innovation, little thought, passes went astray, and overall, both teams were lacking in energy, desire and purpose.
In fact, even though City were in the ascendancy with regard to territory, the better openings and opportunities accrued to Celtic on the counter, especially in the first half.
When the Capetonians did manage to break through, as they did five minutes before halftime, they were let down by a shoddy finish from Moseamedi.
Latching on to a cross from Sim, the burly striker should have headed in what would have been a rather easy goal, instead he chose to stick out a high, gangly right foot – and his attempt turned out to be more comical than clinical.
The game continued to meander along without much to enthuse over – City, as the home side, trying in vain to get things going, while the visitors from Bloemfontein packed their defence, intent on spoiling and frustrating, and then attempting to hit on the break.
Celtic had defender Tshepo Rikhotso sent off after a second yellow card during the second half of extra time – and that was the catalyst for a goal to finally arrive.
Down to 10 men, the Free Staters crumbled, and City substitute Sibusiso Masina netted in the 115th minute.
A minute later, it was 2-0 when Nodada’s good work resulted in Celtic scoring an own goal.