Bloemfontein Celtic won an intriguing and dramatic semi-final against their rivals Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Sunday, booking their place in the Telkom Knockout final against Mamelodi Sundowns.
Letladi Madubayna scored the opening goal for Celtic in the 52nd minute with an impressive run and powerful strike, but his effort was cancelled out after some poor goalkeeping by Patrick Tignyemb which Dove Wome took advantage of with a simple tap-in, in the 71st minute.
Celtic took the lead in the 81st minute as Lerato Manzini found the target, but Wome was not finished and scored an audacious free-kick in the 84th. The goal fest continued, as Joel Mogorosi sent in a powerful header in the 94th minute which proved be the eventual winner.
The game was played at a fast pace despite the sapping heat at the stadium and the first half ended goalless, even though both sides looked sharp in front of goal and created numerous chances.
Bloemfontein Celtic started the second stanza with the wind at their backs and looked the stronger side in the opening minutes. Their early dominance resulted in an emphatic finish by Letladi Madubanya in the 52nd minute.
Madubanye burst through the midfield using his strength and speed to shrug off the defensive efforts by Stars. He continued his run into the box and rifled a shot into the goal from just inside the area. Kennedy Mweene had no chance to save the powerful strike and Celtic had one foot in the final.
Ea Lla Koto showed intent in finding the equaliser but struggled to create any opportunities until Dove Wome found himself in space and shot tamely towards goal.
Patrick Tignyemb should have caught the effort but parried it away allowing for Mvula to try score from close range.
His shot was saved by Tignyemb and the rebound fell kindly into the path of the onrushing Wome who merely tapped the ball into the vacant goal. With 71 minutes on the clock the game was level again.
This did not last long as Celtic’s impact player Lerato Manzini scored once again from the bench in the 81st minute.
Joel Mogorosi received the ball on the left wing and ran into space at the near post, deciding to provide a square pass into the area instead of taking on the shot from a tight angle. Manzini tapped home from close range and put Celtic into the lead.
But once again the lead could not be held on to, as Dove Wome scored his second goal with a piece of brilliance in the 84th minute. He took a free kick on the left hand-side of the area and instead of feeding in the cross, he went for goal with an audacious effort. The ball swerved into the top right corner which sparked wild celebrations from the striker.
Ea Lla Koto’s winger Katlego Mashego had to be taken to hospital after the player broke his leg in two places during a tackle on the right wing.
The dramatic goal fest ended 2-2 at full time and headed into the extra thirty minutes. However, the intrigue continued as Joel Mogorosi climbed high just outside the box and sent a vicious header towards goal.
Kennedy Mweene went to save the effort with two hands which turned out to be the wrong decision as the ball ripped through his grasp and found the top-right corner of the net in the 94th minute.
Mogorosi’s strike proved to be the winner for Bloemfontein Celtic which sent the club through to their first Telkom Knockout final in their history, after winning one of the most memorable derby clashes in recent times.