SuperSport United put a damper on Orlando Pirates’ early season optimism with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win following a 2-2 draw in an MTN8 quarter-final at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
In an evenly balanced game which ebbed and flowed in both directions, Augustine Mulenga scored early on for Bucs with SuperSport netting through Dean Furman and Evans Rusike either side of the break, before a goal on the hour mark by Gladwin Shitolo ensured extra time and later penalties.
After a bright start to the evening from both sides, it was Pirates who drew first blood in the 15th minute through a well-worked move which ended in Mulenga playing a one-two with debutant Linda Mntambo before poking the ball past Ronwen Williams and into the goal.
SuperSport looked determined to recover from the setback and they had a couple of half chances through Zambian youngster Lungu Ghampani before Teboho Mokoena struck the outside of the post with a rifling effort from 30-yards out.
The equaliser came not long afterwards and was instigated and finished by Furman as the captain picked up the ball in the 33rd minute near the halfway line before partaking in a couple of combinations and then unleashing a curling left-footed effort into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Pirates came back trying to restore their advantage, but although they created a few openings before the interval, they weren’t able to test Williams again, a fine tackle by Clayton Daniels on Justin Shonga ensuring the SuperSport goalie was not exposed.
After Evans Rusike tested Bucs stopper Siyabonga Mpontshane moments after the restart, the Zimbabwean marksman was to put Matsatsantsa ahead for the first time when he located the bottom corner with a clinical low shot after being given way to much time and space in the opposition box in the 49th minute.
This time however it was the Tshwane club who were unable to hang on to their lead as the Sea Robbers restored parity on 60 minutes when after SuperSport failed to clear a corner, Xola Mlambo’s shot was deflected into goal by Bucs defender Gladwin Shitolo.
Mpontshane then pulled off a brilliant save just seconds later to stop SuperSport from going in front again as he reacted brilliantly to tip Mokoena’s header over the bar.
From that point on until the end of regulation time, it was the Soweto outfit who dominated proceedings as Matsatsantsa increasingly sat back and defended.
For the most part, this worked pretty well for Kaitano Tembo’s team – apart from a 74th-minute effort dragged wide by Mulenga, and 10 minutes later a miscued close-range volley from Pule which should have won Bucs the game – the hosts did not overly threaten the SuperSport goal.
The match went to extra time, with neither team able to get on top and there were no clear-cut chances at either end until Bucs were awarded a penalty in the 115th minute after Morgan Gould had taken down substitute Thamsanqa Gabuza in the box. But the opportunity was not taken as Mulenga’s spot-kick lacked conviction and Williams made a routine save.
It got worse for the Sea Robbers in the penalty shoot-out when Innocent Maela had a tame spot-kick saved by Williams and Thembinkosi Lorch missed the target all together before James Keene held his nerve to win it for the Pretoria men.