Leopards triumph in Polokwane thriller
Rodney Ramagalela, Black Leopards
The match at Peter Mokaba Stadium featured five goals, two red cards and a penalty as Lidoda Duvha madehard work of winning a game that they were in control of with 20 minutes to play.
Leopards took control ofthe game early on, with the hard-running strike pairing of Rodney Ramagalela and Brian Amidu causing Celtic’s defence all kinds of trouble.
On 20 minutes Amidu announced himself with a superbly-taken goal to put the hosts ahead. He drove forward down the left of the penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed drive into the top corner that gave the ‘keeper no chance.
The Zimbabwean striker almost added a second toward the end of the half with a deflected shot from afree kick that flashed wide of the Celtic goal posts. In all, Leopards wereworthy of their 1-0 half time lead.
Celtic showed a lot more intent in the early stages of the second half and should have drawn level on 51minutes. Danny Venter provided a terrific cross from the right that picked outLyle Lakay at the back post, but the winger only managed to squirm the ball into the middle of the box.
The ball fell for Lennox Bacela,but his quick turn and shot was matched by some good goalkeeping from Azwindini Maphaha, who had anticipated the situation perfectly and was in place to make another crucial block.
Celtic were made to payfor this on 66 minutes when Leopards doubled their advantage. Substitute Raymond Monama put Thomas Madimba through and the midfielder rounded the ‘keeper before finishing off with his left foot.
On 70 minutes the game changed completely when Leopards midfielder Djunga Munganga was shown astraight red card for a studs-up challenge on Letladi Madubanya. Celtic soontook control and soon made it 2-2 with two goals in the space of a minute.
On 76 minutes they gottheir first when Maphaha’s attempted clearance rebounded off his defenderSiphamanda Sithole and rolled into the net. Less than 60 seconds laterMadubanya tapped in from close range after Ruzaigh Gamildien steered a lob pastthe ‘keeper.
Celtic had all the momentum behind them, but defender Dominic Isaacs then gave away a needlesspenalty when he pulled down Madimba, allowing Ramagalela to put Leopards backin front at 3-2 from the spot kick with 10 minutes to play.
The hosts were able tohold out for the win, much to the frustration of Celtic, who were also reducedto 10 men in injury time when John Arwuah committed a reckless, studs-up lungeof his own.