JOHANNESBURG – Chippa United successfully navigated a rollercoaster of a Nedbank Cup quarterfinal ride against Bidvest Wits at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night to emerge 5-3 penalty shoot-out victors – after the match had been locked at 4-4 after 120 minutes of pulsating action.
Andile Mbenyane had given Chippa the lead soon after kick off. But that didn't last long as Gift Motupa found a 19th minute equaliser, before Terrence Dzvukamanja put the Students ahead for the first time just before the interval.
The Chilli Boys fought back and levelled from the penalty spot through Boikanyo Komane, before Dzvukamanja notched what looked to the winner, only for Ruzaigh Gamaldien to fire in a superb 89th minute free kick to force the game to extra time.
More goals followed as Rhulani Manzini edged Chippa in front once more, before Deon Hotto netted the final of the eight goals to take the match to the lottery of penalties.
After Mbenyane scored for the visitors with only three minutes on the clock, with a glancing near post header from a Thabo Rakhale corner, there was never any danger of this being a boring encounter.
The Chilli Boys remained on the front foot and had what looked like a decent shout for a penalty turned down after Wits keeper Darren Keet's rather clumsy challenge on Mark Mayambela.
Instead, the home side were to get themselves back into the game when from a Hotto corner, Lehlohonolo Nonyane's header fell for Motupa, who turned and fired into the net from close range.
The Eastern Cape side suffered another setback soon after as Mbenyane was taken to hospital after what looked like concussion, following a clash of heads with Nonyane.
The game had swung back into the Clever Boys' favour by the midway point of the first stanza and they had more chances to score as Motupa went close with a shot from outside the box before Dzvukamanja's miscued effort flew straight at Chippa keeper Mbongeni Mzimela.
The Johannesburg outfit were to drive home their advantage in the second minute of first half added time when Dzvukamanja rose well in the box to head a Hotto corner into the top corner.
Following a lively start to the second half, the Chilli Boys were awarded a penalty on the hour mark after Sifiso Hlanti was adjudged to have used his arm to block a cross into the box, in what was possibly a harsh decision against the Bafana defender.
Komane was to hold his nerve, finding the bottom corner despite Keet getting a touch; 2-2 in the 62nd minute.
The game now evenly-balanced and there for the taking, Wits midfielder Cole Alexander picked up the ball 35-yards from goal and threaded in Motupa, who turned brilliantly in the box before playing the perfect square ball for Dzvukamanja to sweep into the roof of the net on 80 minutes.
There was to be a lucky escape for the Clever Boys moments later when Rakhale had a goal ruled off-sides in what replays seemed to show was the wrong call.
The visitors, however, still had fight in them and they ensured extra time when in the 90th minute, Gamildien curled in a beauty of a free kick.
Just six minutes into extra time and the Chilli Boys reclaimed the lead for the first time since Mbenyane's early goal when a purposeful attack ended with Lerato Manzini teeing up Rhulani Manzini with a pin-point cross which was tucked away from six yards out.
There was, though, still a lot of time for Wits to come back, and two minutes into the second half of extra time they levelled the game up at 4-4 when Hotto expertly volleyed home an angled effort from an Elias Pelembe cross.
Hotto should have wrapped up victory with what was the last play of the game, but from just a couple of metres out he badly fluffed his attempted finish from another excellent pass from Pelembe.
Pelembe's penalty was kept out by Mzimela, which proved the difference as all five of the Chippa players converted their spot kicks to emerge victorious and book their spot in the semifinals after a memorable cup encounter.
African News Agency (ANA)