Platinum Stars 2-3 SuperSport United: Matsatsantsa into their second successive Nedbank Cup final
SuperSport United marched onto the Nedbank Cup final with a 3-2 win over Platinum Stars in a match played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night
By Ernest Makhaya
Platinum Stars hosted the defending champions SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup semifinal on Wednesday night, as both teams looked to join Kaizer Chiefs in the final on May 25.
The home side got off to a good start when Tintswalo Tshabalala created himself some space in the 5th minute, but his powerful shot went straight into Ronwen Williams hands.
United, who desperately needed a win after their last weekend’s Caf result, nearly broke the deadlock in the 15 minutes after a superb curler from Thabiso NKoana, but Stars keeper Kabelo Dambe dived to his left to make a fine save.
Dikwena deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute with a clinical finish from Tintswalo Tshabalala who reacted quicker than the United defence after Williams had come off his line to block Thuso Phala’s effort.
The visitors reacted immediately after that goal and it was Thabiso Nkoana who picked Kermit Erasmus inside the Stars’ penalty area, but Erasmus blasted his shot over the bar.
Platinum Stars created a few goalscoring chances as they looked to wrap the game in the first 45 minutes and Tshepo Gumede wasted a chance in the 42nd minute, as he headed over the bar from Phala’s corner.
The home side managed to keep their opponents at bay until the end of the first half, as Dikwena looked very much in control going into the second half.
Matsatsantsa players seemed to have understood what Gavin Hunt expected from them at halftime, as the Tshwane side grabbed an equalizer just six minutes into the second half from Kermit Erasmus’ strike.
United got their opponents on the back foot a few minutes later when Erasmus hit the crossbar with a well taken volley after some desperate defending from the Stars defence.
Nkoana then came close to getting himself on the score sheet a minute later, having done well to protect the ball from Gumede, but his shot sailed inches wide with the Stars keeper Dambe in no man’s land.
Just when the game looked to be heading to extra time, Dikwena keeper Dambe dropped the ball on Mogogi Gabonamong’s path in the penalty area, and the Botswana international played it to substitute Clifford Mulenga who slotted home to make it 2-1 with 10 minutes remaining.
The home side won a free-kick outside the box, but Vuyo Mere’s shot hit the wall and resultant in opening play.
Stars won the spot kick in the dying minutes of the game after Bevan Fransman was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Phala inside the penalty area and it was Thabani Mthembu who stepped up to send Williams the wrong way and take the game to extra time.
Platinum Stars looked to take over from where they left off in the first 15 minutes, but had to wait until the 8th minute of extra time to threaten United’s goal when Phala’s shot hit the side netting from an awkward angle.
United regained their lead on the stroke of half time after Gumede had brought down Edwin Gyimah in the penalty area and the referee did not hesitate to point it to the spot and veteran striker Sibusiso Zuma held his nerves and coolly slotted home to make it 3-2.
Dikwena were badly exposed at the back in the second half of extra time, as they all pushed forward for an equalizer and Zuma should have extended their lead with 10 minutes remaining, but he shot wide from Sameehg Doutie’s cross.
Maluleka should have given United a breathing space in the dying minutes of extra time, but Dambe stood firm to deny Matsatsantsa their fourth goal of the night.
However, three goals proved to be enough for United to set up a mouth-watering Nedbank Cup final with Kaizer Chiefs on May 25.