Virgil Vries was the hero for Kaizer Chiefs who needed penalties to overcome a stubborn Black Leopards outfit after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation time of their Telkom Knockout last-16 clash, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Giovanni Solinas made a whopping seven changes to the team that lost their most recent Absa Premiership clash against Polokwane City, with Virgil Vries, Eric Mathoho, Hendrick Ekstein, Philani Zulu, Bernard Parker and Gustavo Paez being handed starting berths.
Vries made an excellent save to deny Leopards as early as the second minute, when he grabbed the ball of the feet of a goalbound Mwape Musonda.
Leopards continued to look dangerous with their intrict one-two’s and again came close to taking the lead, but Musonda’s skimmed finish went across the face of goal.
It became a matter of not if, but when for Lidodha Duvha who continued to knock on Chiefs’ door, with Taphinga hitting the crossbar following a swift attacking move in the 25th minute.
The visitors eventually broke the deadlock when Chiefs’ defence allowed Phathutshedzo Nange too much space, resulting in a left-foot bullet by the midfielder which gave goalkeeper Vries no chance.
Bernar Parker came close to restoring the scoreline as his rasping long-ranger shot out of anger beat the Leopards goalkeeper but came off the upright as the visitors went into half-time break in the lead.
After upping the tempo in the second stanza, Chiefs thought they had equalise matters in the 54th minute, but the referee adjudged Hendrick Ekstein to have been offside after Parker’s effort came crashing off the crossbar.
The Soweto giants made a double change in the 63rd minute with Ryan Moon and Kabelo Mahlasela replacing Gustavo Paez and Philani Zulu respectively.
Chiefs restored matters a minute later when Ekstein latched onto Parker’s beautiful ball ver the top, before slotting past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Mathoho could have doubled his side’s lead in the 69rh minute but his first touch left much to be desired, after timing his run to perfection to latch onto Parker’s ball.
Moon came agonsingly close to being the hero for Chiefs, but his goalbound effort was turned away for a corner.
The two teams were unable to find a goal in regulation time with the game being forced into extra-time.
Katsande came close agonisingly close to scoring a spectacular winner for Amakhosi, but his effort cannoned off the crossbar.
Vries was the hero for Chiefs as he saved two penalties to ensure that his side run out 4-2 victors on penalties o book their spot alongside the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates in the quarter-final of the TKO.