Chiefs’ Xulu goes from villain to hero

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Xulu had scored a quite remarkable own-goal with seven minutes remaining in regulation time to make it three goals each to send the teams to extra-time in the Cup quarterfinal contest, but with the sides seemingly headed to penalties he scored the goal that sealed the result.

That strike came in the 115th minute when AmaKhosi captain Siphiwe Tshabalala sent the ball into the area from a setpiece, and Xulu produced a spectacular bicycle-kick finish to secure the win for his side.

Chiefs did manage a fifth with time up, as Hendrick Ekstein was on target to make the scoreline more flattering for the defending champions.

Earlier, Kurt Lentjies stunned the Chiefs defence as he scored the opener for the visitors in the eighth minute. The fiery midfielder snapped up a loose ball near the centre circle, and with just the goal ahead he surged into the box, rounded Chiefs keeper Reyaad Pieterse and fired into the open target to make it 1-0 to Maritzburg.

Tshabalala had a sharp chance just before the quarter hour mark, but his first-time shot from a Tsepo Masilela cross was directed into the side-netting.

George Lebese found himself in a good position running into the box in the 27th minute, but his left-footed effort was scuffed harmlessly across the face of goal.

A minute later, Mondli Cele sought to increase the advantage of Maritzburg from long-range but his shot was nothing more than speculative as the ball soared into the stands.

In the 38th minute, a promising Chiefs attack came to nought with the final shot coming in from Bernard Parker, but the striker could not keep his attempt down.

Maritzburg made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. Thamsanqa Teyise buried a free-header to double his side’s lead from a Thamsanqa Mkhize corner.

Lebese pulled a goal back a minute after the interval. Siboniso Gaxa made the run down the right-hand side and picked out Lebese unmarked deep in the box, and the ball was headed powerfully to evade a despairing Virgil Vries in the Maritzburg goal.

By the 52nd minute Chiefs had levelled the scores. The home side moved forward in unison and Bernard Parker took the shot from just outside the box and the ball deflected in off the post to make it 2-2.

In the 63rd minute, the comeback of the defending champions was complete. Tshabala reeled off the initial shot in the box which was saved, but Lebese was in perfect position to nudge home the rebound to secure his brace and make it 3-2 to the hosts.

A stunning own-goal in the 83rd minute from Chiefs defender Siyanda Xulu gifted Maritzburg their third goal to level the scores once again. A speculative ball upfield was sent towards the Chiefs box, and Xulu running towards his keeper had the misfortune of the ball landing squarely on his head before looping into the back of the net to make the score 3-3. - ANA

Original source: Chiefs’ Xulu goes from villain to hero

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