ORLANDO Pirates emerged victorious in their Nedbank Cup Last 32 match, beating Thanda Royal Zulu 3-1 on penalties following a dramatic 3-3 result after extra-time at the uMhlathuze Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Stoppage time goals from Ayanda Gcaba and Helder Pelembe meant Pirates sent the game into additional time, but Mhlengi Cele’s goal at the final minute of extra-time saw the dramatic fixture end in penalties.
Bucs were looking to avoid a repeat of last season after they were eliminated at this stage of the competition last season, falling to the unknown entity in Maluti College.
But it was déjà vu again when Pirates found themselves having to chase a lead after just 40 seconds. Both Ayanda Gcaba and Lucky Lekgwathi failed to clear the ball in the box and it allowed for Andile Fikizolo to strike a low ball past Senzo Meyiwa.
Another chance fell to the home side 10 minutes later when Mhlengi Cele struck an effort which forced the Pirates’ goalkeeper to dip down and make the save at the near post.
Boy Gumede tried an effort from range 15 minutes in, but he was never in control of it and he saw his shot sail high and wide over the goal frame.
Thanda were undoubtedly high on confidence and they were taking the game to Pirates in the opening stages of the game.
The Soweto outfit started to acquire the main share of possession and it saw Helder Pelembe fire Daine Klate’s short free-kick over the crossbar just after the half hour mark.
Pirates’ wastage proved crucial as Thanda went 2-0 up in the 37th minute under impressive circumstances. Erik Tinkler’s side failed to clear their lines off a corner kick, and it allowed for Fikizolo to fire an unstoppable effort from 25-yards out, leaving Meyiwa rooted to the spot.
Kermit Erasmus was brought on in place of Tlou Segolela at the restart, but it was Pelembe who tested Siya Mngoma for the first time in the match with his snap-shot in at the near post.
The former SuperSport United man wanted a penalty, after just ten minutes on the park, when he went to ground in the box but the referee waved play on.
Gcaba was lucky to walk away with just a yellow card after he was caught launching his foot into the lower stomach of an opposition player. It could’ve, and probably should’ve, been a dismissal.
Pelembe created Pirates’ best opportunity of the day when he swung in a glancing header on the 70th minute, only to see it painstakingly denied by the crossbar.
The deficit was halved in the first minute of stoppage time when Gcaba headed in an effort to line-up an exciting end to the match.
But it was Pirates who had the last laugh and sent the game into extra-time when Pelembe was left unmarked at the back post and tapped in an effort to make it 2-2 in the final minute of additional time.
Pirates thought the victory was sealed in the second half of extra-time when Erasmus turned on the ball and beat Mngoma 11 minutes away from the final whistle, but Cele pounced with a tap-in, in the final minute of play, to send the match into penalties.
The Sea Robbers did eventually come out on top, progressing 3-1 on penalties thanks to spot-kicks from Oupa Manyisa, Erasmus and Makola.
Thanda Royal Zulu (2) (2) 3 (Fikizolo 1’, 37’, Cele 120’)
Orlando Pirates: (0) (2) 3 (Gcaba 91’ Pelembe 94’, Erasmus 109’)
Thanda Royal Zulu: Mngoma, Sekete, Khanyilen( Zitha 74’), Maselwa, Luthuli (Vilane 92’), Komane, Cele, Spandiel, Bhengu, Fikizolo (Mashishi 84’), Gumede
Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Nyauza, Lekgwathi, Matlaba, Gcaba, Pelembe, Segolela (Erasmus 46’), Manyisa, Myeni, Klate (Malongoane 71’), Ntshumayelo (Makola 57’)
Penalty shoot-out: Komane (Miss), Manyisa (Goal), Cele (Goal), Erasmus (Goal), Mashishi (Miss), Makola (Goal), Spandiel (Miss).
In the other Nedbank Cup’s last 32 results Golden Arrows beat Polokwane City 1-0 with lower division sides, AmaBEE and Great North losing losing 2-0 and 3-1 to BidVest Wits and Platinum Stars respectively while Free State Stars became the first victim from the bigger league to suffer a defeat under the lower division club when they lost 2-1 to Witbank Spurs. In Dobsonville Moroka Swallows registered a 4-3 victory over the stubborn Mbombela United while Maritzburg United edged out Mpumalanga Black Aces with a 2-1 victory.-Backpage TXT