DURBAN – It took a moment of magic from Xola Mlambo and the brace from Thembinkosi Lorch to decide an epic Telkom Knockout quarterfinal showdown between AmaZulu and Orlando Pirates on Saturday night at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Local boys Usuthu succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in extra-time.
The game lived up to its billing as both side displayed vigilant football and attacked each from all ends. Ninety minutes couldn't separate the pair and extra-time was required to determine the winner.
Mlambo, who is known for his champagne passes showed another element of his game as he produced a scorcher to send his side in to the semi-finals of the competition.
He was backed by Lorch who notched up a brace on the day.
The game was played at a frenetic pace. The Buccaneers were piling attack after attack as they went for kill from the word go.
Usuthu remained resilient and resolute at the back during the first 35 minutes. Siyabonga Mbatha produced a brilliant save 26 minutes in to the match to deny Thembinkosi Lorch and kept his side in the game.
Mlambo and Ben Motshwari dictacted terms in the middle of the park for Pirates.
Usuthu finally succumbed to the relentless pressure that the Buccaneers were piling nine minutes before the interval. Lorch made a telling run between Sedate Ouro-Akoriko and Phumlani Gumede and beaten them for pace before putting the ball between the legs of Mbatha.
Pirates really deserved their lead. They persevered and were rewarded for their efforts.
The Buccaneers switched off after taking the lead. Usuthu responded quickly as Bongi Ntuli restored parity with a sublime header to level the matters four minutes later after he was well spotted by Marc Van Heerden.
The atmosphere was electric and exuberant. Spectators came in their numbers and they were given a run for their money.
Pule was causing all sorts of havoc for Usuthu after the break as he went close twice. His first attempt sailed wide while the second one got the best out of Mbatha.
Usuthu composed themselves after those scares.
The second half didn't produce a lot of clear cut goalscoring opportunities as the first half did.
Emiliano Tade was the main threat for Usuthu and if they were to score you'll bet that the goal was going to come from him but unfortunately it never did.
Justin Shonga should have killed off the game for Pirates in the dying minutes of the match but lack composure to pass the net as he tried to hold on to the ball instead of tapping in to the empty net.
Lorch did everything right and it was left to Shonga to send the Buccaneers into the semi-finals of the competition.
Moments later, Shonga, was sacrificed and Thabo Qalinge took his place. The game ended 1-1 in 90 minutes.
Mlambo produced a moment of magic four minutes in to extra time as he unleashed a grass-cutter to beat Mbatha with a sublime finish.
Lorch completed his brace later on. Qalinge was the provider and it was game over for Usuthu.
Lorch was unlucky not to complete his hat-trick in the dying minutes of extra time. His attempt hit the framework after he got the better of Mbatha.
AmaZulu (1) 1
Orlando Pirates (1) 3