UMLAZI – Highlands Park dumped AmaZulu out of the Nedbank Cup on penalties at King Zwelithini Stadium on Friday night.
The game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes and the Lions of the North emerged as 3-1 victors after the spot-kick shoot-out.
Bongi Ntuli, Nhlanhla Vilakazi and Mbongeni Gumede all missed their penalties for Usuthu, while Mothobi Mvala, Siphiwe Msimango and Peter Shalulile converted for Highlands.
Usuthu started on the front foot, with Phumlani Gumede testing Marlon Heugh from distance, but the Highlands goal-minder was up for the task as he pushed the attempt away for a corner kick.
Highlands were always looking dangerous on transition, utilising the pace of Peter Shalulile and Mokete Mogaila in the first 35 minutes of the game.
They almost scored when Mvala found Mogaila, but Siyabonga Mbatha showed a great sense of anticipation when he came off his line and produced a fine save to keep Highlands at bay.
Usuthu were finally rewarded for their dominance and persistence when Luckyboy Mokoena brought down Samuel Darpoh inside the box, and was booked for the infringement.
Emiliano Tade stepped up to convert the spot-kick after 34 minutes.
From there onwards, it was all Highlands, who were asking questions at AmaZulu.
Mbatha came to Usuthu’s rescue when he denied the menacing Mogaila in another one-on-one battle.
Ryan Rae restored parity with a thumping header to beat Mbatha after he was well spotted by Shalulile just minutes before the interval.
It was coming for the Lions of North as they were piling on the pressure in the last 15 minutes of the first half in search of the equaliser.
Usuthu almost regained their lead when Marc van Heerden hit the post nine minutes after the break.
It was end-to-end stuff at King Zwelithini as Mbatha denied Mogaila once again in another one-on-one battle.
Mogaila was causing havoc for Usuthu with his blistering pace on the right-hand side.
The Lions OF The North won 3 – 1 on penalties!!!
— Highlands Park FC (@HighlandsP_FC) January 25, 2019
Bongi Ntuli, who was quiet all night long, almost produced a moment of magic when he mesmerised the Highlands defence and then unleashed a bullet, but Heugh was at his best to deny the lanky striker.
The game went to extra time as both sides failed to snatch the winner after 90 minutes, but it didn’t produce any clear goal-scoring opportunities, and the game had to be decided on penalties.
Usuthu are still yet to get off the mark in 2019.