JOHANNESBURG – Highlands Park beat Black Leopards 6-5 on penalties after 120 minutes had failed to produce any goals in a Telkom Knockout first-round encounter at the Makhulong Stadium on Sunday.
The MTN8 finalists join Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United, Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United in the quarterfinals, with Chippa United to host Bloemfontein Celtic in the final first-round fixture, on Tuesday.
On what was a scorching hot afternoon in Tembisa, the first half was a hard-fought, physical affair, with not much in the way of clear-cut chances.
There was however an opportunity for Highlands Park defender Spiwe Msimango, but he was unable to find the target while at the other end, Mwape Musonda was doing his best to give Leopards the advantage, but couldn't have the beating of Highlands keeper Thela Ngobeni.
Right towards the end of the opening stanza, both teams had shots blocked close to the goal-line, with Leopards seemingly unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty for a hand-ball.
The second half proved far more lively in terms of goal-mouth action, with the hosts having a great chance three minutes after the restart, only for Peter Shalulile to header over the bar from just three yards out.
It was becoming an open and end-to-end game as Leopards went close through Karabo Tshepe before Msimango headed the ball into the net, but the goal was disallowed for off-sides.
At the other end of the park, Leopards enjoyed a great chance to take the lead when Lesedi Kapinga went clean in on goal, but his parting shot lacked accuracy as he planted the ball just wide of the far post.
The Lions of the North ended regulation time strongly and they had what looked a decent appeal for a penalty turned down after Shalulile was fouled on the edge of the area before Tendai Ndoro then squandered another opportunity at a winner for the hosts with a tame shot straight at Lidoda Duvha keeper Jonas Mendes.
The game headed into extra time and the Limpopo team were reduced to 10 men four minutes in after Khuliso Mudau went crashing into Ricardo Williams and was shown a second yellow card.
Proceedings remained lively as both teams pushed for a winner, the next clear chance falling to Shalulile early into the second half of extra time, but once more he failed to hit the target.
The hosts were to end the match on top but just couldn't score as Mothobi Mvala failed to convert a couple of late openings.
To penalties it went, and after both sides had converted all five of their respective spot-kicks, Themba Ndlovu sent his effort wide of the goal, leaving Msimango to slot home the winner.