Kazier Chiefs came from two goals down at half-time to win its MTN8 encounter against Maritzburg United 5-3 at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday night. The league champions came out of the locker room in the first half like a house on fire, bossing the midfield and controlling possession. However it was the visitors who drew first blood.
A miscommunication in defence allowed Kurt Lentjies to pick the ball up in Chiefs’ third quarter. He proceeded to dash forward, rounding the keeper with his final touch before punching the ball into the open net in the eighth minute. As expected Steve Komphela’s men surged forward looking for the equaliser.
Amakhosi however found United in no mood to let up their lead. The latter managed to hold onto their advantage until the 45th minute. Some more poor defending allowed Thamsanqa Teyise to meet a corner kick at the near post and comfortably direct it into the back of the net with a header to double the Maritzburg tally.
Enter the second half and Komphela’s charges won the ball in the middle of the park directly from kick off. They exchanged a few passes before seeing George Lebese head home from just inside the box. Lebese connected his header from a cross that came from the right hand side of attack.
Seven minutes later a slipping Bernard Parker hit the inside of the right post with a left footed effort. The ball rolled over the line to level matters. With the Glamour Boys leading the attack Lebese made it 3-2 in the 62nd minute.
This was after Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabala played a quick one-two in the box. Tshabalala took a shot and Lebese pounced on the rebound from the keeper to see his team take the lead. With the match fading away from Mandla Ncikazi’s men, it was Siyabonga Xulu who made another costly mistake as he plucked the ball into his own net.
His head met a long ball pumped forward by an opposite player. With Reyaad Pieterse off his line, the keeper could do nothing but watch the ball bounce on Xulu’s head and drop into the back of the next in the 83rd minute and it was 3-3. In extra time the Soweto giants continued to look for the lead.
With Lebesee off and Letsholoyane no longer hovering in the danger zone, their attacking options became limited. In the 115th minute Tshabalala whipped in a free kick that met Xulu – who managed to redeem his poor performance on the night to make it four and restore the hosts’ lead.
All three goals conceded by Chiefs on the night came as a result of Xulu’s mistakes on what had been a nightmare night up until that point. Khomphela signaled to his players to park the bus at that stage. With some attacking players not obliging Tshabalala and Parker played neat touches between themselves before the captain cut the ball back into the path of substitute Hendrik Ekstein who touched the ball into the back of the net to make it 5-3 and seal the victory.
The Phefeni Glamour Boys will wait to see who they will meet in the next round of the knockout tournament. The semif-inals are contested over two legs, home and away.
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