POLOKWANE – SuperSport United booked their place in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory over Polokwane City.
The match had to go to spot-kicks at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday afternoon after ending 1-1 after 120 minutes.
In what was an evenly-balanced contest, Kaitano Tembo’s team were a more regular threat in front of goal and on that basis were probably deserved winners.
The visitors from Tshwane dominated the first half exchanges and were on the front foot from the start as they charged forward after only 14 seconds, Teboho Mokoena putting Ghampani Lungu clean in on goal, only for the Zambian to be denied by a fine reflex save by home keeper Harold Ndlovu.
Lungu then came even closer when he struck the post moments later, before Aubrey Modiba drew a top save from Ndlovu with a stinging drive at the near post.
Ndlovu was called into action again, eight minutes before the interval, when he reacted superbly from close range to keep out James Keene after the Englishman had nipped in to steal possession at the back post following a Modiba cross.
Modiba was to have the first opening of the second stanza after Keene released him on goal in the 50th minute, but the Bafana winger fired into the side-netting.
The momentum was to shift in the home side’s favour as SuperSport found themselves under sustained pressure with the game very much on a knife-edge.
However, the Pretoria team was finally to make one of their chances count when Thuso Phala controlled a 77th minute cross inside the box, and then held off Sibusiso Mbonani before delightfully dinking the ball past the out-rushing Ndlovu.
After Keene went close to adding a second goal with a headed effort three minutes later, Polokwane began to increasingly lay siege to the SuperSport goal.
And following a shot by Bongile Booi which flew over, the Limpopo team snatched a 91st minute equaliser when Edgar Manaka powered in a headed effort from a corner kick.
Both sides had their moments in the first half of extra time, with SuperSport defender Clayton Daniels missing the best opportunity when he skied a shot over the crossbar from eight yards out.
Apart from a Grant Kekana header, which never threatened, chances were at a premium in the second period of extra time, and so to penalties it went.
Both sides converted all five of their opening spot-kicks, and after Phumlani Ntshangase had netted SuperSport’s sixth, Rise and Shine’s Ayanda Nkili blazed his kick over the crossbar as Matsatsantsa marched on.
African News Agency (ANA)