Cape Town - Maritzburg reached their first ever cup final when they recovered from conceding an early goal to stun favourites Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in their Nedbank Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Coach Fadlu Davids’ team will now meet Free State Stars in next month’s final, although their dream looked to be up in smoke seconds after kick-off.
They were off to the worse possible start as Richard Ofori's lapse in concentration saw him fail to gather a routine shot from Gaston Sirino after Percy Tau's through ball.
The goal stunned the home fans into silence and they remained that way for most of the first half as their side was restricted to long-range strikes.
Bevan Fransman and Andrea Fileccia twice found themselves in promising positions, but each time the ball was put over.
At the other end, the visitors had another good chance just before the half-hour when Sibusiso Vilakazi played in Tau on the left, but his strike from a tight angle struck the side netting.
Ofori then redeemed himself when he made an excellent one-handed block to keep out Tau from 16 yards after 41 minutes, with the loose ball blazed wide by Themba Zwane from the right side of the box.
But United got their reward moments before half time. Makaringe's determined run saw him play a one-two with Lebohang Maboe that allowed the latter to open up his body and fire beyond a stranded Denis Onyango.
Chances dried up after the break as two of the best defences in the country stood tall in the Pietermaritzburg heat.
It took until the 69th minute for the next opening as Sirino produced a chance out of nothing when he spun sharply on the edge of the box and curled an effort towards the top corner that forced Ofori to finger-tip over.
But the Uruguayan was then sent off after collecting his second yellow card for a foul on Maboe.
And that was the tonic that United needed as Fortune Makaringe crossed for Mxolisi Kunene from the left and the substitute turned his marker, before arrowing into the bottom corner,
To add insult to injury, Makaringe then netted his first goal of the season in stoppage time when he sprung the off-side trap, and drilled in beyond Onyango.