Reports & Previews

Nedbank Cup: Highlands Park defeat AmaZulu in penalty shootout

Highlands Park booked their place in the draw for the Nedbank Cup last 16 after defeating AmaZulu 3-1 in a penalty shootout on Friday night.

AmaZulu claimed the lead just after the half-hour mark as Emiliano Tade converted from the penalty spot, before Ryan Rae headed the visitors back on level terms in the 41st minute. However, the scoreline remained unchanged after that point as neither side managed to net a winner, even after extra time.

The match started at a high tempo as both sides bombed forward in search of an early breakthrough at a rainswept King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium.

The first chance of the game arrived after just four minutes of play, Phumlani Gumede testing Highlands Park keeper Marlon Heugh with a stinging shot from distance.

The Lions of the North fashioned their first chance of the evening three minutes later as Mokete Mogaila raced clear of the defence only for Usuthu keeper Siyabonga Mbatha to come rushing off his line and snuff out the danger.

Highlands Park again threatened to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute, but Mothobi Mvala failed to capitalise as he snatched his shot wide on the volley.

But it was AmaZulu who claimed the lead in the 33rd minute after a foul in the danger area by Luckyboy Mokoena. Emiliano Tade stepped up to take the spot kick and fired it straight down the middle, with Heugh unable to keep the ball out with his feet after diving to his left.

The visitors proved to be a constant threat, though, and drew level from a set piece of their own on 41 minutes. AmaZulu failed to clear from a corner and Ryan Rae timed his run perfectly at the back post to send a bullet of a header into the bottom-right corner.

AmaZulu were unlucky not to score six minutes into the second half as Marc Van Heerden's powerful free-kick smacked against the crossbar, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Mbatha again came to the rescue for the hosts as he came racing off his line to deny Mokete once more.

The hosts created two more noteworthy chances, but Bongi Ntuli was denied by Heugh in the Highlands Park goal before Samuel Darpoh fired wide of the mark after a good run down the left flank.

And, with scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the match went to extra time as the rain continued to pour down in Umlazi.

The was very little action to speak of in the first half of extra time, but the match sprang to life in the second stanza after Lesenya Ramoraka cleared substitute Mhlengi Cele's goal-bound effort off the line.

Cele had another great opportunity to snatch a late winner but fired wide with only the keeper to beat, before Sello Motsepe saw red for a bad tackle on substitute Thembela Sikhakhane in the dying moments of the game.

However, with neither side able to fashion a winner in extra time, the match went to penalties. And it was Highlands Park who held their nerve in the ensuing shootout, converting three of their attempts as AmaZulu netted just once from the spot.