Leopards go down fighting in thriller
Bloemfontein Celtic advanced to the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout Cup after beating Black Leopards 6-5 in a sudden death penalty shootout.
The drama took place at the imposing Seisa Ramabodu Stadium in Mangaung, a venue always dominated by the green and white of Phunya Selesele.
But the home side were made to sweat for the victory by the motivated Lidoda Duvha, who failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage after Lebohang Mothibantoa was sent off in the 67th minute.
He poked a finger at Nono Lubanzadio after the two players were involved in a tussle for the ball.
The game was decided on penalties after the two sides were deadlocked at 1-1 after 90 minutes of regulation time.
Leopards' deadly striker Myron Shongwe broke the deadlock in the 11th minute when he easily tapped in a superb cross from Thabiso Hlalele.
Celtic finally broke Leopards' resistance in the 44th minute when Ghanaian Mark Amofa levelled matters, beating goalkeeper Mashudu Mamphita with a tame shot. Amofa had received a neat pass from Patrick Malokase.
The equaliser came a few minutes after Malokase had a goal disallowed by Theron, who ruled that the striker pulled down defender Eric Ramavhale.
The second half saw the home side exerting more pressure in search of the killer goal. But the Limpopo outfit stood their ground.
Leopards hit back but lacked penetration. David Thidiela's side played beautiful football and they had Celtic players chasing shadows most of the time.
Mamphita made two brilliant saves at close range in this period. He denied Carlos Scot in the 63rd minute and Petros Mahlatsi in the 66th minute.
Boebie Solomons, the visitors' coach, made three technical changes when he introduced Robert Ngambi, Christopher Netshidzivhe and Walter Ramulondi for Maluleke, Shongwe and Mulondo Sikhwivhilu, respectively.
Celtic's Khabo Zondo brought on Scott for Amofa and Mahlatsi for Siphisihle Ngobese. But Scott played for about 15 minutes when Zondo pulled him out for tactical reasons after Mothibantoa was given his marching orders. He was replaced by Sikhakhane.
Celtic's scorers in the penalty shootout were Sikhakhane, Mahlatsi, Tumelo "Six" Nhlapo, John Maduka and Didier Mbenje.
Leopards' scorers were Netshidzivhe, Ramavhale, Lebo Kekana and Ramulondi. Those who missed were Christian Moudutie, David Makgale (Leopards) and Moses Spandeel (Celtic).
Celtic now join Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns in the next round.