BLOEMFONTEIN – Golden Arrows substitute Knox Mutizwa came off the bench at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday afternoon to score both goals in a 2-1 Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash against Bloemfontein Celtic.
After a tightly-contested first hour of the game, Mutizwa put the visiting side ahead in the 70th minute. Bongani Sam equalised 10 minutes later, before Mutizwa struck a 90th minute winner.
Wary of conceding in a cup tie, neither team were overly ambitious in the opening stages - which meant there was very little in the way of goalmouth action.
As the first half progressed it was the KZN side who began to look more of a threat going forward. And after Danny Venter had gone close with a free kick, Sibusiso Sibeko squandered a great chance in the 33rd minute after being afforded time and space in the Celtic box, he hesitated before shooting tamely straight at goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.
It continued in a similar vein after the restart as the two sides pushed and probed for openings but were unable to create clearcut chances.
Celtic did have some decent possession, but it was Abafana bes'Thende who continued to look more dangerous when going forward. After Sibeko had a decent penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be pulled back in the box, Wayde Jooste did well to create space for himself with some neat skill in the box, but fired wide on the half volley.
Arrows' superiority did pay dividends as Mutizwa played in Lerato Lamola down the left wing, before sprinting into the box, controlling Lamola's inch perfect cross and calmly side-footing it past Tignyemb and into the net.
The hosts responded well and it took them just 10 minutes to restore parity after Arrows keeper Maximilian Mbaeva could only parry Ndumiso Mabena's stinging drive back into the danger zone, where Sam reacted quickest to head the ball into an open net.
Suddenly it was end-to-end action as Mabena fired a shot wide before Lamola had the ball in the net, only to be called back for off-sides, and then Menzi Masuku dragged a shot wide from a good position for Celtic.
With a minute of regulation time to play and extra time seemingly on the way, Arrows earned a free kick right on the edge of the box, which Mutizwa curled beautifully into the bottom corner.
Komphela's men now line up with National First Division outfit TS Galaxy in the last four, where they will be joined by the winners of Saturday night's game between Bidvest Wits and Chippa United, and Sunday's showdown between Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City.
African News Agency (ANA)