Mohammed Anas netted the only goal of the game as Black Leopards booked their place in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals with a 1-0 home win over AmaZulu on Saturday afternoon.
The first half was an evenly contested affair with both teams creating a handful of good chances to break the deadlock.
AmaZulu came flying out of the starting blocks and threatened to claim the lead after just one minute as Limbikani Mzava saw his header from the centre of the area snapped up by Leopards goalkeeper King Ndlovu.
After a brief lull in play, Black Leopards would eventually muster a response midway through the half, with Anas sending a headed attempt just wide of the top-right corner from a tight angle.
Leopards went on to create two chances in quick succession as the match approached the half-hour mark but Lifa Hlongwane and Rodney Ramagalela both failed to find the target with shots from outside the box.
Usuthu very nearly snatched the lead in the 32nd minute when Siphiwe Tshabalala sent an inviting cross into the danger area, but Tsepo Masilela was unable to capitalise as he saw his powerful header clip the crossbar.
Leopards created one last noteworthy chance as the first half drew to a close but goalkeeper Neil Boshoff was alert to the danger, producing a good save to deny Tumelo Khutlang's long-range shot.
Tshabalala had the last chance of the first half, though, firing a speculative effort over the bar from more than 35 yards out.
There was plenty more action to come after the half-time break as both teams bombed forward in the early stages of the half.
AmaZulu's Sphesihle Maduna fired narrowly wide in the 47th minute while at the opposite end of the pitch, Leopards' Mumuni Abubakar sent a left-footed shot over the bar from outside the box.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 52nd minute, with Anas heading home from close range after Hlongwane had flicked a headed pass into the danger area following a corner.
The visitors had an excellent opportunity to draw level just a couple of minutes later but Talent Chawapiwa was unable to find a way past Ndlovu in the Leopards goal.
Buoyed by their earlier goal, Leopards opted to keep pressing forward as they looked to forge a two-goal cushion.
However, Ramagalela was twice denied by Boshoff in the space of four minutes while second-half substitutes Donald Makgetlwa and Wiseman Maluleke were unable to add to Leopards' slender advantage in injury time.
Those missed opportunities did not come back to haunt them, though, as AmaZulu's Siyethemba Sithebe fired over with a speculative effort from range at the death.