Bloem Celtic get crucial away goal against SuperSport United in evenly poised cup semi
The second semi-final of the MTN8 ended evenly poised after SuperSport United came from behind to force a 1-1 draw at home against Bloemfontein Celtic in the first leg in rainy conditions in Atteridgeville on Sunday afternoon.
But it is the visitors who will feel the advantage should be on their side having scored the crucial away goal that will force SuperSport to score at least once in order to advance to the final when Celtic host the second leg in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.
It took Celtic just 15 minutes to get on the score sheet after captain Ndumiso Mabena rounded off a fantastic team move to put the ball past the advancing Ronwen Williams in the United goal to take the lead at the wet Lucas Moripe Stadium.
SuperSport tried to keep a high defensive line but were at sixes and sevens as the central pairing of veteran Clayton Daniels and Bongani Khumalo struggled against the speedy Celtic forwards.
Celtic coach John Maduka’ tactical plans were somewhat shaken up as key midfield strong man Lantshene Phalane came off clutching to his groin area with almost half an hour played and was replaced with Given Mashikinya.
Celtic had another injury scare shortly afterwards when goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane failed to stand up from a diving save he made to deny Jamie Webber.
The keeper fell awkwardly after making the save and looked to have been dazed. He received medical attention for several minutes on the pitch but was able to finish the first half.
It was a first half which largely belonged to Celtic. The visitors were mostly comfortable on the ball and made the home side chase shadows.
But United came back from the dressing rooms with a renewed intent and wasted no time in finding the back of the net with Zambian livewire Ghampani Lungu pouncing on a loose ball in the Celtic box to make it 1-1.
The second half was scrappy and chances few and far in between because of the downpour that made a passing game difficult to sustain.
Celtic keeper Mabokgwane found himself at the end of another awkward fall similar to the one in the first period after making a save and he struggled to recover this time around.
He was stretchered off the pitch and looked to be suffering from a pain in his head and was replaced by Sipho Chaine.
However‚ Celtic will start the second leg at Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday as favourites with their away goal but first will have to shift focus to Premiership action with a tricky home encounter against Orlando Pirates‚ who outclassed rivals Kaizer Chiefs and scored three crucial goals at Orlando Stadium on Saturday to put one foot in the R8m final.
Well-crafted goals from Zakhele Lepasa in the first half and two more from Vincent Pule and man of the match Thembinkosi Lorch in the second half left limping Chiefs with a mountain to climb in the second leg at FNB Stadium on Sunday.
Chiefs will play host TS Galaxy on Wednesday as they look to gain momentum in the Premiership and will aim to walk away with a victory that will boost their confidence and hope that they can overturn a 3-0 score line and meet the demands of their legion of millions of fans who want nothing but silverware.