Abbubakar Mobara, who scored the opening goal for Pirates, gets in a cross ahead of Lantshene Phalane of Celtic at the Orlando Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates progressed to the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup after beating Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 after extra time on Saturday night.

The result means Pirates still have a fighting chance of finishing this season with some form of silverware, following what has been a disastrous season for them.

Thamsanqa Gabuza was the hero for the Buccaneers with a goal in the 12th minute of extra time.

In the first period, Pirates struggled to find one another in the attacking third. The combination of Tendai Ndoro and Mpho Makola as the Sea Robbers’ striking pair for the night lacked the required aggression to penetrate their opponents in the final third.

The presence of Thabo Rakhale, who was making his first start under new coach Kjell Jonevret following his return from a knee injury, didn’t help either.

The attacking winger lacked the creative spark he’s well known for up and down the touchline.

The only clear chance he created in the first half was when he delivered a pinpoint cross to connect with Makola inside the box, but the latter fluffed that opportunity as his header went over the crossbar.

Not only did Celtic hold their defensive line pretty well, they attacked with purpose too. The only problem was they couldn’t put their long-range shots on target.

One of those missed chances was when Musa Nyatama unleashed a powerful curled shot outside the box to test the opposition ’keeper between the sticks.

Siyabonga Mpontshane was late for the required save, but luckily enough, the shot went inches over the top corner.

Celtic played with a great sense of urgency in the first 10 minutes of the second period in search of an opener, but it was Pirates who wanted it more.

Abbubaker Mobara scored his first goal in the Sea Robbers colours, giving them a lead they so desperately needed against a side who beat them in an Absa Premiership tie this season.

Pirates had lost 2-1 against Siwelele at the very same venue on that occasion.

But the lead provided by central midfielder Mobara was short-lived as Celtic responded with a decent attacking move of their own inside the last 10 minutes of the match.

Kabelo Mahlasela converted the chance from the edge of the box following a decent pass from the midfield to give his side the equalising goal.

However, it was not to be for Celtic as substitute Gabuza grabbed the winner for Pirates in the first half of extra time with a well-taken header.

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