Black Leopards emerged 5-4 penalty victors over Orlando Pirates after their thrilling Nedbank Cup last-32 tie had been locked at 1-1 after extra time at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday evening.
In a match in which both sides created regular scoring chances in front of a full house in the Limpopo Province, Lidoda Duvha’s bravery and commitment against their more illustrious opponents was ultimately rewarded with a place in the last-16.
Both teams scored in the first half; Justin Shonga putting the Buccaneers ahead of the half hour mark before Leopards hit back through Mwape Musonda shortly after.
The home side were full of confidence and energy in the opening stages of the game, and after a great build-up involving several players in the 14th minute, Musonda looked set to pounce when he latched onto a Lefa Hlongwane cross, but the shot flew over the bar.
Pirates hadn’t done much to threaten the home defence, yet it was the visitors who were to draw first blood when Shonga fired in a low free kick into the bottom corner from out on the left hand side on 31 minutes.
It was harsh on Leopards to go behind, but it wasn’t for long as they struck back just seven minutes later when Musonda got just enough on his volley from Pentjie Zulu’s superb cross to beat Bucs keeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
The Zambian could have added another goal soon after, but fired into the side-netting, while at the other end Shonga wasted a glorious chance to put the Sea Robbers ahead just before the break when he shot over the bar from only seven yards out.
The Soweto side started the second half well and were close to scoring, when Vincent Pule narrowly missed the target with a snap shot from 20-yards out.
At the other end, Musonda also had a good opportunity. It was Bucs though who looked more like getting a winner and it took two world class saves from home keeper King Ndlovu on Thembinkosi Lorch and Paseka Mako to keep the score at 1-1 as the game neared the end of regulation time.
Shonga could have wrapped it up for Pirates in the 88th minute, but after a storming run he fired into the side-netting.
The hosts came out firing in the first period of extra time but just couldn’t find a winner as Lehlogonolo Masalesa, Hlongwane, Karabo Tshepe and Tshwarelo Bereng all went close.
The second half of extra time failed to produce any clear-cut opportunities, during which time Masalesa was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card in the 115th minute.
Leopards started the penalty shoot-out on the back foot when Musonda blasted over the bar. But two fine saves from Ndlovu on Kudakwashe Mahachi and Alfred Ndengane enabled Joseph Mhlongo to fire home the decider.