SuperSport knock out Pirates to join Chiefs, Sundowns in the MTN8 semis
Holders SuperSport United bundled Orlando Pirates out of the MTN8 quarter-final on Saturday but it took post-match penalties to separate the two clubs on a cold night at the Orlando Stadium.
The Bucanneers had the majority of the play and two glorious chances to wrap up the tie but squandered them and paid the price with elimination.
James Keene delivered the killer blow to win the shootout after Pirates’ Innocent Maela had his kick saved and Thembinkosi Lorch missed in the post-match shootout for the home team.
SuperSport started the game in unusual formation by pushing four forwards right on top of the Pirates defence and making things uncomfortable for their hosts but the ploy did not last long and within eight minutes the Buccaneers had their first chance after SuperSport’s new Zambian signing Ghampani Lungu, making his debut, lost possession and Maela finished poorly after being set up by Vincent Pule.
Seven minutes after that, Pirates had the ball in the net after a series of combination passes saw the Zambian attacking duo of Augustine Mulenga and Justin Shonga combine and Mulenga toe poke the ball to the left of SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams for the opener.
Pirates had control but allowed their visitors to come back into the game after a fine individual effort from Dean Furman ensured parity in the 33rd minute.
He was involved in the build-up from deep in his own half, surging forward to both spray and then collect passes with Evans Rusike finally setting up Furman to run onto the ball and then curl a left footed shot past Siyabonga Mpontshane.
It was only Furman’s fourth goal in SuperSport colours but one that displayed both his application and desire.
But within five minutes Furman was guilty of being caught with the ball on the edge of his own area, then disposed and allowing Shonga to burst through on goal and it needed a superb tackle from Clayton Daniels to ensure the two sides went level into the break.
Rusike had two efforts inside the opening two minutes of the second half before the third was ruthlessly buried to give SuperSport the lead.
Pirates looked as if they had not switched on after the break and paid the price.
But with an hour gone it was level again. SuperSport made heavy work of clearing a corner despite having plenty players back in defence.
The ball banged around like it was in a pinball machine before falling for Xola Mlambo, whose shot took a deflection off teammate Gladwin Shitolo and went into the net.
Shitolo knew little about it but, as he had the last touch, it was his goal.
Pule had the goal at his mercy five minutes from the end of regulation time when Thamsanqa Gabuza’s initial effort was saved by Williams and the rebound was there to be finished.
But Pule conjured up a horror miss to ensure the game went into extra time, where play became laboured and produced no more clear cut chances.
Then with seven minutes left of extra time, Morgan Gould tugged back Gabuza in a moment of madness to concede a penalty. But Mulenga had his spot kick expertly saved by Williams.
The penalty shootout again saw Williams make a key save to keep up this reputation as the best in the business in the spot kick lottery.