BETHLEHEM – High-flying Free State Stars had to dig deep for a 2-1 extra time win over provincial rivals Super Eagles in a Nedbank Cup last 32 match at Goble Park on Wednesday evening.
Stars had been looking set to become the second PSL club after Polokwane City to be eliminated by a lower league side after Bongani Mbuli had put Eagles in front. But a late Rooi Mahamutsa equaliser took the game to extra time before Mohamed Anas grabbed the winner.
In a closely-fought encounter, Eagles made a positive start to the game and had a chance after 11 minutes, but Motlatsi Perekisi's shot was blocked by a defender.
Stars also had a couple of chances as Nhlanhla Vilakazi fired well over the bar, before Siphelele Mthembu went close with a header on 25 minutes.
Ea Lla Koto were given a golden opportunity to go in front six minutes before half time after they were awarded a soft looking penalty, but former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker Mthembu missed the target.
The National First Division side came storming back and after Nkosinathi Ogle missed the target from a great position, Eagles took the lead deep in first half added time when Mbuli converted from an Ogle corner.
Vilakazi should have levelled the game for Stars on the hour mark, but he failed to score from just five yards out
The pressure continued to mount from the top-flight club, but this however opened up space on the break and Eagles could have added a second goal 20 minutes from time, only for Ricardo Versuur to fire in a weak shot.
The failure to extend their advantage came back to haunt Eagles as Mahamutsa equalised in the 91st minute.
Things went from bad to worse when five minutes into the first half of extra time, Ghana-born striker Anas put the Absa Premiership club in front for the first time in the match.
There was no way back for Super Eagles as Stars shut up shop successfully to book their spot in Thursday night's last 16 draw.
African News Agency (ANA)