Cape Town – Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi was the hero as Kaizer Chiefs booked their place in the Telkom Knockout semi-finals with a 4-2 victory on penalties against 10-man Orlando Pirates after a pulsating Soweto derby ended 2-2 after extra-time.
Fortune Makaringe had given Pirates the lead in the first half, but Chiefs hit back with Leonard Castro equalising after the half-time interval as the game finished 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes at a packed Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Daniel Cardoso converted a penalty early in extra-time, but Gabadinho Mhango made sure the match went into the lottery of a penalty shootout.
The match started at a good pace with Chiefs testing Pirates ‘keeper Wayne Sandilands as early as the first minute as George Maluleka had an effort on goal.
Amakhosi started the game stronger and were denied the chance to take the lead in the 22nd minute when Samir Nurkovic headed into the back of the net but was controversially ruled offside when replays suggested otherwise.
The Buccaneers started to get more into the contest and Vincent Pule hit the post after a brilliant one-two on the edge of the box with Kabelo Dlamini.
Another referee controversy ensued just after the half-hour mark when Thembinkosi Lorch appeared to stamp on Billiat as the Zimbabwe international was on the ground.
The match official decided to only show a yellow card to the Bafana forward when a red was more appropriate.
Chiefs’ frustration would have been exacerbated when Lorch was involved in the opening goal just two minutes after he should have been sent off.
Kabelo Dlamini was picked out after he made a good run down the left flank and fired in a cross to Lorch in the box, who did well to tee up Makaringe to score past Akpeyi.
As the game was heading for the halftime interval, it was Chiefs that got away with a refereeing decision as Akpeyi was lucky to stay on the pitch after appearing to foul Makaringe when he was through on goal.
No foul was given and the teams went into the break with Pirates holding the slightest of advantages.
Pirates’ task to stay in the lead was made even more difficult just five minutes after the break when Mthokozisi Dube was shown his marching orders after receiving his second yellow card after a foul on Billiat.
It was long after when Chiefs found the equaliser as Castro hit the back of the net from a rebound after Billiat had hit the post after good work initially by Lebogang Manyama.
The game certainly ebbed and flowed throughout with Pirates certainly showing good character and fighting spirit as they gave as good as they got with a man less.
The team in white could have even snatched the game before the 90 minutes was up as they created chances on the counter-attack.
Chiefs went 2-1 ahead when Cardoso converted a spot-kick early in the extra-time period after Abel Mabaso was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.
Pirates though were not phased and kept coming, even being a man and a goal down, Mhango levelled the once again as more good work by Lorch set it up the strike.
The game went into the dreaded spot-kicks and Akpeyi saved from Ben Motshwari and Mabaso while Chiefs converted all four penalties to advance to the last four of the Telkom Knockout.