Free State Stars secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup after seeing off Chippa United 2-1 at Goble Park on Saturday.
Paulus Masehe did well to header home the first goal from a Sinethemba Jantjie corner two minutes into the second half, and while second-half substitute Linda Mntambo netted a 57th minute free-kick for Chippa, Bangaly Keita popped up late on to fire home a timely winner with just two minutes of the match remaining.
Patrick Phungwayo was named Man of the Match.
Masehe was off target with an early sighter that flew wide, while Thabo Rakhale should have done better when played through inside the area by Mark Mayambela, but he failed to get enough power to his shot.
Patrick Phungwayo looked to break through the Chippa defence but settled for a corner, while a 23rd minute free-kick from Harris Tchilimbou was well collected by Chippa goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo.
The lively Mayambela smashed well over after picking up the ball a full 30 yards from goal ahead of a number of corners for Stars.
Chippa looked to get forward down the left flank though Fares Hachi while at the other end, a Maxime Cosse delivery across the face of goal was just too far ahead of Mohamed Anas, who seconds later came close to connecting to a superb crossfield ball from Phungwayo from the left of the pitch.
James Okwuosa headed a Kurt Lentjies free-kick, on the half-hour mark, wide as Keita came close on the half-volley with a dinked effort from a Cosse set-piece.
Stars were largely on top in the latter stages of the first half as they passed the ball around well. Rakhale though did well to cut inside and force a good save from Thela Ngobeni.
Jantjie fired just wide of the Chippa goal with a snapshot five minutes before the break ahead of an acrobatic scissor kick from Masehe that was well blocked by Abel Mabaso.
Jantjie then looked to go down in the box under a challenge from Hachi but only a corner was awarded as the half ended on level terms.
Stars pressured their opponents at the beginning of the second half and were soon ahead, on 50 minutes, through a well-taken stooping headed from Masehe, as he connected to a Jantjie cross from the right.
Chippa responded by upping the tempo and playing some good passing football, although it was Stars who came close to scoring next as Masehe saw his goal-bound shot deflect into the arms of Mhlongo.
Mntambo was looking lively though and scored an equaliser for Chippa with 57 minutes on the clock from a free-lick from the left-hand side that took a deflection off Tchilimbou to deceive Ngobeni.
The goal only buoyed Stars though as Jantjie so nearly set up Anas with a low cross from the right ahead of an Mntambo volley wide on 62 minutes.
Anas was offside as he reacted well to a deflected ball into the box from Goodman Dlamini to fire home before expertly riding a couple of challenges from Okwuosa inside the Chippa area, although he couldn’t beat a well-placed Mhlongo.
Ngobeni then made the save of the day to stop another Chippa substitute, Bantu Mzwakali, from netting after he had latched onto a cross from the right from Mntambo.
Chippa were enjoying much of the possession in the latter stages of the game, but failed to really trouble the Stars’ defence before a timely winner from Keita with 88 minutes on the clock.
The defender got forward and smashed home form close range after Rooi Mahamutsa’s long throw from the right dropped at his feet after Anas had challenged for the ball.
All in all it was a well-earned result for Free State Stars, who will find out which team awaits in the quarter-finals after the draw is made on Thursday 15 March 2018 at the Clock Tower in Cape Town from 7:30pm.