Black Leopards beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-2 in a topsy-turvy Premier League game of strange twists and inexcusable mistakes that ended with both teams reduced to 10 men at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon.
It was the first time in five seasons that the rejuvenated Limpopo Province-based club have opened a PSL season with a victory after a succession of desperate years in which they were relegated once and came close to suffering a similar fate on two other occasions.
However, after leading 1-0 at the interval through a sensational 25-metre shot from the youthful Abbas Amidu and doubling their lead in the 66th minute through Thomas Madimba after the Celtic defence had tied themselves in knots, Leopards almost had victory snatched from them in nightmarish fashion.
But despite the two horrendous mistakes in the Leopards' defence that enabled Celtic to equalise with quick-fire scoring efforts in the 69th and 73rd minutes from an own-goal and a Letludi Madubanya tap-in, Leopards could rightly claim that it was erratic referee Victor Gomes who started their problems.
Gomes reduced Leopards to 10 players in the 66th minute with an overly harsh decision in sending off Jean Munganga, with Leopards thrown out of their stride as a result.
In the 79th minute, Gomes awarded Leopards a penalty and Rodney Ramagalela, who had missed two gilt-edged opportunities in the opening half, scored the winning goal with a precisely-placed spot-kick.
The decision of Gomes to send off Celtic's John Arwuah in the 84th minute was a good deal more justified than the indiscriminate red card he had earlier produced - with the erring player already having been yellow-carded before he produced a crude, potentially bone-crushing tackle.