Durban - Orlando Pirates defeated Thanda Royal Zulu 3-1 via a penalty shootout as the Nedbank Cup match at the uMhlathuze Sports Complex ended in a 3-3 draw after extra-time on Saturday afternoon.
The Sea Robbers were the first to comeback in the encounter, cancelling out a two-goal deficit to force the match into extra time, but Mhlengi Cele’s goal in the 120th minute forced the six-goal thriller to be decided on spot-kicks.
Pirates were looking to avoid the disappointment they sustained last season when they were embarrassingly eliminated at this stage of the competition to Maluti College.
But this time the lightning struck the same place twice and it saw Pirates going a goal behind from the first kick of the whistle. Thanda worked their way into the box, but both Ayanda Gcaba and Lucky Lekgwathi failed to clear, and it allowed for Andile Fikizolo to slice a low drive into the back of net.
Ten minutes later the home side created another through Mhlengi Cele, who struck an effort which forced the Pirates’ goalkeeper to dip down and make the save at the near post.
Boy Gumede tried an effort from range 15 minutes in, but he was never in control of it and he saw his shot sail high and wide over the goal frame.
The KwaZulu Natal outfit was sensing that it was the right time to play Pirates and they were doing well to test the Bucs in the opening stages of the game.
Pirates had started to gain the majority of the possession by the half hour mark, but they still looked far from scoring when Helder Pelembe fire over Daine Klate’s free-kick straight over the goals.
It proved costly for the away team as Thanda went 2-0 up in the 37th minute through Fikizolo. Pirates failed to clear their lines and it saw the goal scorer strike an unstoppable pile-driver from 25-yards out to get his goal of the afternoon.
Kermit Erasmus was brought on in place of Tlou Segolela at the restart, but it was Pelembe who tested Siya Mngoma for the first time in the game with his snap-shot in at the near post.
Gcaba was lucky to walk away with just a yellow card after he was caught launching his foot into the lower stomach of an opposition player- it probably should’ve been an instant dismissal.
The crossbar then denied Pelembe of his glancing header midway through the second half, before Erasmus drew a save from Mngoma which the ‘keeper nearly made a hash of.
An exciting end to the game was lined-up when Gcaba’s header beat the opposition’s ‘keeper to halve the deficit in the first minute of stoppage time.
Thanda’s lead was completely cancelled out in the final minute of additional time after Pelembe made it 2-2 with his tap in at the near post to send the game into an extra 30 minutes of playing time.
Erasmus thought he had sealed the victory 11 minutes from full time of extra-time when he turned on the ball and beat Mngoma, but Cele’s tap-in the 120th minute at the near post meant the game ended in a penalty shoot-out.
Oupa Manyisa, Erasmus and Makola all converted their spot-kicks for the away side as Pirates claimed a 3-1 win on penalties to progress into the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.
Thanda Royal Zulu (2) (2) 3 (Fikizolo 1’, 37’, Cele 120’)
Orlando Pirates: (0) (2) 3 (Gcaba 91’ Pelembe 94’, Erasmus 109’)
Thanda Royal Zulu: Mngoma, Sekete, Khanyilen( Zitha 74’), Maselwa, Luthuli (Vilane 92’), Komane, Cele, Spandiel, Bhengu, Fikizolo (Mashishi 84’), Gumede
Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Nyauza, Lekgwathi, Matlaba, Gcaba, Pelembe, Segolela (Erasmus 46’), Manyisa, Myeni, Klate (Malongoane 71’), Ntshumayelo (Makola 57’)
Penalty shoot-out: Komane (Miss), Manyisa (Goal), Cele (Goal), Erasmus (Goal), Mashishi (Miss), Makola (Goal), Spandiel (Miss)