AmaZulu rally into quarters
Durban - Ayanda Dlamini scored an injury-time winner as AmaZulu rallied from a goal down to beat Platinum Stars 2-1 at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium and book a place in the quarter-finals of the Telkom Knockout.
AmaZulu created the first scoring chance of the match in the eighth minute, with Stars goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane forced to come quickly off his line to deny Ayanda Dlamini, while Mkhokheli Dube was unable to capitalise on the resulting loose ball.
On 12 minutes it was Stars’ turn to threaten a goal, as the hosts were unable to clear their lines from a corner kick and the ball fell kindly in the penalty area for attackers Thabani Mthembu and Robert Ng’ambi, who got in each other’s way as the chance went a-begging.
Midway through the first half Dlamini had another sight of goal from a tight angle, resulting in a weak shot which was easily saved by Mpontshane. It did appear as if the Usuthu striker was pushed in the back by Benson Mhlongo as he got away the shot, but the referee was uninterested in appeals for a penalty.
On 32 minutes the hosts had another chance to open the scoring, with Dube rounding the goalkeeper only to be stymied by some good defending as he attempted to get a shot into the unguarded net.
Dikwena upped their game in the second half and just seven minutes after the restart they broke the deadlock through a well-worked team goal. Vuyo Mere provided a teasing cross from the right, Ng’ambi provided a knock-down and Vuyo Mere crashed home a left-footed volley that gave goalkeeper Philani Zikalala no chance.
Three minutes later winger Joseph Malongoane had a chance to double the visitors’ advantage when he was faced with only the ‘keeper to beat, but his low shot allowed Zikalala to make a smothering save.
With just under 15 minutes of regulation time to play, AmaZulu levelled the game at 1-1. Thokozani Mshengu’s goal-bound shot was well saved by Mpontshane, but the rebound hit the foot of the unfortunate Ennocent Mkhabela and rolled into the net for an own goal - it was Mkhabela’s first touch, having come off the bench just a minute earlier.
Usuthu completed the turnaround in referee’s option time at the end of the 90, with Ayanda Dlamini sprinting onto a through ball in a counter attack before providing an ice-cool finish to send his side into the quarter-finals.