Orlando Pirates squandered a 2-0 lead as Platinum Stars fought till the last minute to force their Telkom Charity Cup game into a penalty shoot-out, where Pirates triumphed 4-2 to advance to the final.
The fans packing the Mmabatho Stadium were not disappointed by the first semifinal, which produced four goals. Teko Modise scored first in the 19th minute and Excellent Walaza doubled the lead in the 31st minute.
Stars fought back gallantly through Simba Marumo, who scored on the hour mark and then added a controversial equaliser in extra time.
Thulasizwe Mbuyane and right-back Happy Jele tormented the Stars defence with their storming runs down the wing. A dazzling solo run — à la Messi style — by Mbuyane left three defenders bemused before he sent in a cross that Modise coolly struck past the diving Wayne Sandilands.
Five minutes later Mbuyane had a good chance to double Bucs’ lead but lacked the composure and shot over the goal mouth. The Pirates wingers were certainly more dangerous in attack with left-winger Bennet Chenene teasing the Stars fullbacks with his speed and trickery.
Chenene won a penalty after slipping past Lefa Mogaila, and although TV replays showed the bemused Stars defender did not touch him, the referee pointed to the spot.
Sandilands went the right way but Walaza just put enough power on it to give the mighty Bucs a comfortable lead.
The Tycoons hardly troubled the Pirates rear guard, which Lesotho international defender Lehlohonolo Seema marshalled with aplomb.
The Buccaneers continued attacking from the start of the second half, and their opponents seemed in awe of them as they comfortably pushed the ball around. Walaza was at the end of a quick passing move but lacked the timing to strike the ball home.
Pirates playmaker Modise and Joseph Kamwendo dictated terms in midfield but struggled to finish off their moves.
On the other end, Stars striker Simba Marumo, who replaced Henrico Botes during the break, started troubling the Bucs’ back line. The dreadlocked player skinned Destin Makita down the left and sped into the box and, while most were expecting a cross, Marumo picked his spot and beat Senzo Meyiwa at his near post with a fine strike.
Stars upped the tempo and looked for the equaliser but Pirates did not sit back, and the game’s tempo increased. Luis Renteria missed a golden opportunity to equalise for Stars but his shot was way off target with only Meyiwa to beat.
A minute later Chenene beat the offside trap but his attempted chip had too much on it and another chance for Pirates to increase their lead was gone.
With less then 20 minutes to go, Mbuyane aggravated a shoulder injury and Joseph Makhanya took his place.
Pirates seemed set for victory but Marumo had other ideas when he forced the ball out of Meyiwa’s hands after a free kick by Edward Williams.
Although the keeper appeared to control the ball, Marumo challenged him and it spilled from his hands into the goal mouth. The referee allowed the goal and the Bucs players were incensed. Nevertheless, it was too late and the game went into a penalty shoot-out.
Meyiwa saved a penalty kick and Williams hit the bar with his effort, which gave Pirates passage to the final, where the Soweto giants will face either Kaizer Chiefs or Mamelodi Sundowns. — Sapa