Celtic too strong for Milano
Bloemfontein Celtic fought back from a goal down to eliminate Milano United from the Nedbank Cup with a 4-1 win at the Free State Stadium on Sunday.
Surprisingly it was the hosts who set the tone of the match as Alcardo van Graan capatilised on a goalkeeping error in the fifth minute of the game, before an own goal aided in the host’s comeback.
Clinton Larsen was taking no chances in fielding a weaker team, after having seen what happened to Orlando Pirates on Saturday evening when they bowed out of the tournament to the unknown entity of Mahuti College.
The Phunya Sele Sele were hoping to avoid a potential banana skin against Theo Hempe’s side which fielded Ajax Cape Town’s on-loan striker Alcardo van Graan, while their experienced midfielder Keenin Lesch was surprisingly left on the bench.
The Milano skipper had stated that they weren’t there to make up the numbers and they certainly proved their point when the scoreline changed to 1-0, five minutes into the game.
Patrick Tigynemb was slightly to blame for the early goal after he failed to keep a hold of the ball, in which Van Graan toe-poked it out of his grip before rounding the ‘keeper and slotting it into an empty net, 1-0.
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Ten minutes later the danger fell to the former Milano United youth product Ruzaigh Gamaldien. He tested Efraim Tjinhonge at the near post which resulted in a string of corners.
The heat condemned both teams and the match officials into taking a water break midway through the first half, allowing for a rather frazzled Celtic side to regroup.
Richard Webber kept the score in favour of the visitors, 30 minutes in, when his positioning on the goalline allowed his body to block off a Thabo Nthethe header.
Milano’s hard work quickly turned into misfortune when Chad Robertson turned the ball into his own net, six minutes later, with the ball taking a deflection off Auguston Leonard’s cross, 1-1.
With a bee in their bonnet, Celtic restored the order of being the favourites to progress as Thabo Nthethe turned the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1. That goal coming five minutes before the break.
In the second half, Tjinhonge pulled off a great save to deny Lakay of his effort from distance before John Arwuah took the place of a quiet Kurt Lentjies.
Milano had the perfect chance to draw level after Tignyemb spilled Van Graan’s 70th minute shot. The ball bounced around the area but none of the three Milano United players could put it into the back of the net, allowing for the Cameroonian to recover.
Theo Hempe then opted for more stability and experience in his set-up and he opted to bring on Lesch, however, there was little he could do as the scoreline extended in favour of the hosts.
Lakay was giving the minnows a run for their money all game long and it his effort finally paid off when his shot went embarrassingly through the legs of Tjinhonge.
With the sting removed from their tail, there was little fight left in the Milano United side and they found themselves on the end of another goal conceded when Lennox Bacela headed home in stoppage time.
Bloemfontein Celtic: (2) 4 (Robertson OG 36’, Nthethe 40’, Lakay 73’, Bacela 91)
Milano United: (1) 1 (van Graan 5’)
Bloemfontein Celtic: Tignyemb, Leonard, Mzava, Nthethe, Mahoa, Mogorosi (Nyanda 80’), Duiker, Manzini (Bacela 75’), Lentjies (Arwuah 63’), Gamildien, Lakay.
Milano United: Tjinhonge, Posholi, Hempe, Nazier, Robertson, Jacobs, Webber (Brenner 77’), Motha (Lesch 71’), Stoffels, Van Graan, Saal (Stellenboom 46’)