POLOKWANE – Platinum Stars scored a late winner deep into extra-time to register a 1-0 win over Baroka FC in a Nedbank Cup last 16 tie played at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night. The game was goalless after 90 minutes.
It was always going to be a game that would need something special to separate the two teams, especially in such a tight, closely-fought encounter. Just when it looked like the match would need a penalty shoot-out to determine the winner, up popped Stars striker Ndumiso Mabena with a scorching long-range shot to break Baroka’s hearts just before the end of the extra-time time period.
Stars now take their place in the quarter-finals of the cup competition.
Earlier, after a cagey opening period, it was Stars who had the first opportunity at goal through Enocent Mkhabela, but his effort was dealt with by Baroka goalkeeper Ayanda Dlamini. Two more scoring chances accrued to the visitors from Rustenburg, both to Bongi Ntuli, but the striker spurned both opportunities.
Stars continued to press and were unfortunate when youngster Kobamelo Kodisang threaded his way through a few tackles, but his shot was blocked by the Baroka defence. Eight minutes before halftime, it was again Ntuli in the clear, but this time his attempt was brilliantly saved by Dlamini.
Despite the pressure from Stars, Baroka held firm and the first half ended goalless.
Early in the second half, Stars should really have opened the scoring, with two inviting chances for Kodisang, but the one he steered wide and the other he flipped over the bar. Try as they may, Stars just couldn’t break the deadlock, despite more opportunities for Robert N’Gambi and Ntuli. They just couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the net.
All the while, though, Baroka gave as good as they got. With Stars failing to make the most of their openings, the home side had two good chances to score, both to Mxolisi Kunene. His first effort was saved by Stars goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela and the second, a real easy one in front of goal, he ballooned over the bar.
Mzimela was forced into another save soon after and, in keeping with the end-to-end action, Stars were then desperately unlucky when Mabena hit the woodwork.
It stayed that way when the referee blew the final whistle for the end of regulation time, and the match then went into extra-time.