An extra-time winner from Andile Jali sealed Orlando Pirates' spot in the Telkom Knockout final
Matsatsantsa opened the scoring via a Mame Niang header and were able to hold onto their lead throughout the first half. Despite a lacklustre display in the first 45 minutes, Pirates displayed the never-say-die attitude which has been a feature of their season so far.
Oupa Manyisa equalised merely thirty seconds into the second half, by orchestrating and finishing a clinical move for the Buccaneers.
It looked to be the last goal of the match, as Pirates wasted a number of glorious opportunities in extra-time and a penalty-shootout loomed, but Andile Jali found enough energy in reserve to burst into the box and score the winner in the 108th minute.
SuperSport created the first chance of the semi-final early on, with Mame Niang using his strength to muscle past Ayanda Gcaba and head the ball into the path of Thuso Phala. The winger burst towards goal and had time to pick his spot, but mistimed his low drive into the path of Senzo Meyiwa.
Pirates began to look confident in possession while the first half took shape. However, Matsatsantsa soaked up the pressure and landed the first blow in the 13th minute, as Niang pounced to finish a clinical move by the home side.
Poor defending from Pirates allowed for Thuso Phala to curl a weighted delivery onto the head of the towering Senegalese striker, who made no mistake in beating Meyiwa with a powerful header which crossed the line via the inside of the left post.
Pirates looked to strike back immediately, but Ronwen Williams stayed strong in goal to deny Manyisa from close range, who almost profited from an excellent cross by Sifiso Myeni.
It was Williams’ last act of the piece, as he tore a groin muscle when taking a goal kick in the 25th minute and was rushed to hospital.
Rowen Fernandez replaced the talented youngster and survived his first test minutes after coming off the bench, by tipping a thunderous strike from Tlou Segolela over the crossbar.
The Buccaneers piled on the pressure as the first half entered its final fifteen minutes but could not breach the SuperSport defence despite their dominance, as the first half ended 1-0 in the home side’s favour.
The visitor made a perfect start to the second stanza, with Manyisa netting the equaliser thirty seconds after the restart due to some intricate passing which tore SuperSport’s defence to shreds, allowing for the midfielder to tap home from close range.
The Buccaneers had regained their fire and dominated proceedings, as Myeni and Segolela constantly threatened down both flanks.
Lennox Bacela’s first real opportunity of the match was not taken with 60 minutes on the clock, after Myeni glided down the left wing and fired a low cross to the feet of the striker, who failed to hit the target with a curling left-footed shot.
SuperSport may have been hanging on by the skin of their teeth, but almost regained the lead in the 64th minute when Mathebula unleashed a free kick which narrowly missed the target.
Pirates continued to batter the Matsatsantsa defence, but were lucky not to be punished by Mame Niang in the 75th minute, when the striker was deemed to be offside after powering a header past Meyiwa.
A horrific injury to Rooi Mahamutsa broke the Buccaneer’s rhythm as the match entered its final stages, but the visitors were able to carve out one more opportunity, when Collins Mbesuma’s snap-shot was denied by a brilliant save from Fernandez, meaning extra-time was needed to separate the sides.
Pirates continued to suffer from profligacy in the extra thirty minutes, with a number of players wasting gilt-edged chances and more excellent goal-keeping from Fernandez keeping the scores at 1-1, much to the frustration of Roger de Sa and his technical staff.
After his side missed chance after chance, Andile Jali proved to be the hero with 108 minutes on the clock, by keeping his composure to slot home past Fernandez and seal a berth in the final for Orlando Pirates.