Keeper Virgil Vries the hero as Chiefs sneak past Leopards
Kaizer Chiefs needed a penalty shootout to beat Black Leopards to advance in the Telkom Knockout and keep up their hopes of ending their long trophyless run as they edged through in front of a paltry 6‚000 spectators at Soccer City on Sunday.
Ryan Moon scored the decisive kick after Chiefs’ keeper Virgil Vries made two stops in the shootout‚ which Chiefs won 4-2 after a 1-1 stalemate at the end of extra time.
Phathutshedzo Nange had Leopards ahead in the 34th minute as they looked far from overawed. But the home side were a lot better after half-time and came back to equalise through Pule Ekstein to take the game to extra time.
Chiefs struck the woodwork three times but also had some scares as the side from Limpopo put up a brave performance.
Leopards served notice of their intentions within 90 seconds as their Zambian import, Mwape Musonda, beat the offside trap but let the ball get away with a heavy first touch as he had just Vries to beat.
There were other opportunities for both Lifa Hlongwane and Lesedi Kapinga but they were selfish in their decision-making. Kapinga hit the crossbar with a scuffed half volley from Musonda’s cross in the 26th minute before Nange surged ahead at a retreating Chiefs defence before hitting his left-footed shot firmly past Vries.
A snap effort just before half-time almost offered Chiefs an undeserved equaliser but Bernard Parker’s long-range shot hit the upright.
Chiefs had made seven changes after their embarrassing loss in their previous game in Durban against Polokwane City‚ due to the absence through injury of Khama Billiat, Daniel Cardoso‚ Leonardo Castro and Lebogang Manyama.
Chiefs were applying relentless pressure as Parker set up numerous chances while the home team pounded away at the Leopards’ defence.
Just after making a double change‚ Chiefs got the 63rd-minute equaliser as Parker played in a long pass to Ekstein‚ whose first touch was vital in allowing him to slip between the two central defenders and tuck away the ball.
There were half chances on either end but the players looked tired as they ended the 90 minutes in a stalemate and had to go to extra time.
Moon put his sliding effort against the upright 10 minutes into extra time.
An interchange of passes allowed Chiefs’ other substitute, Kabelo Mahlasela, to get around the Leopards’ defence‚ but his shot was saved and right near the end skipper Willard Katsande thundered a shot against the crossbar. In the ensuing shootout‚ Vries saved from Jean Munganga and Eden Nene while Godfrey Walusimbi missed one for Chiefs.