Orlando Pirates visited the Athlone Stadium in clash with Stellenbosch in the MTN 8 semi-final first leg on Sunday afternoon.
Ten-man Stellies took the lead against the run of play in the first half, but a spirited performance from Orlando Pirates in the second half ensured that goals from Zakhele Lepasa and Deon Hotto condemned Stellenbosch to a 2-1 loss in the first leg of the MTN 8 semi-final.
— Orlando Pirates (@orlandopirates) September 3, 2023
The result means the defending champions of this competition will take a two away goal advantage into the second leg which will be played at the Orlando Stadium.
Read on to know how it all happened!
Stellenbosch surprisingly ahead at halftime
Coach Steve Barker recalled Sihle Nduli and Qobolwakhe Sibande into the starting lineup while Jose Riveiro opted to go with Deon Hotto instead of Relebohile Mofokeng from their last game.
From the get-go, Pirates were on the front foot, looking likely to open the scoring.
Patrick Maswanganyi threatened the host as his ferocious shot from a tight angle hit the outside of the net.
The contest became somewhat tight as the host tried to grow into the game. However, a bad studs-up challenge on Maswanganyi from Thabo Moloisane reduced the host to ten men in the 33rd minute.
Steve Barker made a desperate substitution, bringing on Athenkosi Mcaba con for Iqraam Rayners to steady the already reduced defense.
The advantage swung fully to the Buccaneers as they looked to make the most of the situation.
Zakhele Lepasa fashioned a good cross which met Monnapule Saleng but his glancing header was brilliantly stopped by Stephens in goal for the Stellies.
Minutes later, Pirates thought to have taken the lead as a snap-shot from Hotto came off Lepasa enroute to the net, but was disallowed because the in-form striker was adjudged to have strayed offside.
Just when the match was heading to the break tied, a corner from the host was swung in and Ismael Toure rose highest to head into the back of the net!
And just like that, Stellenbosch were ahead against the run of play at halftime.
Zakhele Lepasa and Deon Hotto completed the comeback
The second half began with Pirates in full swing as they patiently probed for an equalizer.
It was until the 65th minute that Riveiro's side found a breakthrough as Maswanganyi combined well down the left and sent a pinpoint cross that found Lepasa who headed it into the net to level up the tie.
The match became evenly contested, neither side showed enough urgency to score.
However, as it looked like the game was destined for a draw, Orlando Pirates snatched the win in the 4th minute of additional time as Deon Hotto charged into the end of Maswanganyi's floated ball before turning it home to heap misery on the host who have played with grits despite with ten men.
The return leg will take place on September 24th, with the champions heading into it with one leg into the finals.
The winner of this tie will play the winner of Kaizer Chiefs vs Mamelodi Sundowns in the finals.
Stellenbosch vs Orlando Pirates confirmed lineups
Stephens, Toure, Basadien, Van Rooyen, Mthethwa, Moloisane, Adams, Nduli, Sibande, De Jong, Rayners
Langeveldt, Mphahlele, Mcaba, Palace, Mgaga, Sekgota, Van Wyk, Oura, Boji
Chaine, Xoki, Shandu, Sibisi, Mako, Monare, Ndlondlo, Saleng, Hotto, Maswanganyi, Lepasa
Ofori, Maela, Monyane, Ndah, Otladisa, Timm, Mofokeng, Marou, Erasmus
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago