Rowen Fernandez was the hero for Kaizer Chiefs as he pulled off three saves in the Coca Cola Cup semi final penalty shootout against Moroka Swallows at the Loftus Stadium on Saturday night.
Swallows were just settling into their rythym when Chiefs hit them with a killer blow in the 11th minute - a free kick from Derrick Spencer located Patrick Mayo inside the box and the recalled Amakhosi striker got a great first touch on the ball before rifling in an unstobble low shot at the near post.
The Birds didn't let the setback get to them and within four minutes they brought the match back onto even terms when Lungisani Ndlela flicked on the ball and Pitso Lekone burst through on goal and expertly slotted the ball past Rowen Ferndez.
Lekone was all over the park in the first stanza and certainly justified coach Gavin Hunt's to give him a rare place in the team's starting line-up.
The remainder of the half saw very little in the way of goal mouth action as the majority of the game was played in the middle of the park, where the hard working Birds captain Goodman Mazibuko was very impressive with his reading of the game and covering tackles.
As anticipated, Swallows Alfred Phiri and Chiefs' Tenashe Nengomashe waged a tough battle in the middle of the field and neither player held back on his challenges.
For Chiefs, main danger Collins Mbesuma had a relatively quiet first period as he received little of the ball and was well marshalled by Ivan Winstanley.
Swallows enjoyed more of the possession stakes and at times knocked the ball around nicely, while the Glamour Boys relied more on counter attacks in the first half.
In the 55th minute Chiefs were unlucky not to take the lead when Thabo Mooki put the ball into the net, but was ajudged to have been offsides.
Four minutes later Edzai Kasinayo wasted a golden chance to score when he blasted over from only six yards out.
With neither side having the advantage in the first fifteen minutes of the second stanza, Chiefs coach brought on John 'Shoes' Moshoeu, although the veteran sruggled to stamp his authority on the game.
In the 64th minute Lekone brought out a good save from Fernandez with a well hit shot from 30-yards out.
Swallows were given the opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the game when Ndlela, who had a great game for the Birds, was brought down inside the area and referee Ace Ncobo pointed to the spot.
Defender Gary calmly slotted away the spot kick.
The team in gold fought back and Swallows Etafia brought off good saves from David Radebe, Kabamba Musasa and Mayo.
However, he was powerless to stop Mbesuma from levelling matters in the 84th minute when the Zambian striker was given space in the box and slammed the ball into the back of the net with an unstoppable shot.
The Birds nearly grabbed a late winner when Ndlela beat Fernandez to Mark McVeigh's aerial ball, however the giant striker was unable to get his header on target, and the whistle went shortly afterwards, sending the game into extra time.
Mbesuma had the first chance, but he was ruled offside just before hitting the back of the net.
At the other end McVeigh came close with a diving header after the ball fell to him inside the box, while Nhlamnla Kubheka did likewise for Amakhosi.
In the final minute of the first period of extra time the away team a great chance to score when Samuel Ngobeni picked out Peter Petersen at the back post, but the dread-locked defender's header was off target.
Fabian McCarthy tested Etafia to the fullest with a free kick which was destined for the top corner until the Swallows keeper intervened.
The game was thus destined to go into penalties, and it was the turn of Fernandez to be the hero.
The Chiefs stopper saved from McNab, Dennis Lota and Mazibuko, while Innocent Chikoya blasted over.
Although Etafia saved from McCarthy, Musasa and Radebe both converted their penalties to seal Chiefs' win.
This is the fourth time in a row that Amakosi have reached the Coke Cup final, having won last year's edition against Silver Stars.