Dikwena punish Ea Lla Koto in thriller

2013-08-11 14:00

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Result sees last season’s exciting team progress to MTN8 semifinals.

Platinum Stars booked their place in the MTN8 semifinals after they thrashed Free State Stars 3-0 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium yesterday.

Midfielder Benson Mhlongo opened the scoring midway through the first half before second-half goals from strikers Siphelele Mthembu and Mogakolodi Ngele of Botswana sealed the victory.

While Ea Lla Koto dominated possession in the early stages, it was the hosts who came close to opening the scoring in the ninth minute, but Lindokuhle Mbatha saw his long-range effort striking the crossbar.

Free State Stars captain Paulus Masehe had a similar effort at the other end four minutes later when he was offered space outside the penalty area, but his effort sailed wide of the opposition goalposts.

The opening goal came in the 26th minute from a set piece as the lanky Mhlongo rose high inside the box to glance defender Vuyo Mere’s corner into the far post, leaving goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng with no chance.

Dikwena came close to doubling their lead in the 40th minute when the exciting midfielder Robert Ng’ambi connected with a cross from Mere, but his volleyed effort was deflected on to the post.

It took 45 minutes for Ea Lla Koto head coach Steve Komphela’s men to hit the target as Mongezi Bobe drilled an effort from outside the box, which was palmed over the crossbar by the Dikwena No?1 Siyabonga Mpontshane.

The home side should have increased their advantage three minutes into the second half when Mbatha nudged Ngele’s cross into the path of Ng’ambi in the centre of the box, but the Malawian sidefooted the ball over the crossbar.

Ea Lla Koto lacked the creativity to penetrate the Dikwena defence and had to rely on shooting from a distance, but in the 56th minute Mpontshane dived low to his right to save an effort from Masehe.

Coach Allan Freese’s side eventually stretched their lead in the 74th minute when Mthembu crept in unnoticed at the far post to head home, connecting with an inswinging free kick from his striking partner Ngele.

The result was put beyond doubt six minutes later when the hosts were awarded a free kick on the right. Ngele caught Motsoeneng by surprise as he curled the ball into the near post from a tight angle.

Ng’ambi had another chance to punish Ea Lla Koto in the first minute of added time after he was set up by a neat back-heel from substitute Henrico Botes, but the midfielder

curled his shot just over the crossbar.

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