FCB Nyasa Bullets are in the Airtel Top 8 final after a 3-2 victory over Blue Eagles at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe to keep their dreams of a treble in the 2023 season alive.
The Blantyre-based giants, who already bagged the FDH Bank Cup and are Super League title contenders, did not give the hosts time to settle down as they netted twice inside the first 10 minutes of the match.
Striker Hassan Kajoke jolted the hosts with the opener just six minutes into the match from forward Lanjesi Nkhoma assist, beating unsettled Eagles goalkeeper Chakonda Majanga.
Bullets then doubled then lead in the eighth minute through Nkhoma after being played in by midfielder Patrick Mwaungulu.
The two quick goals startled Eagles while Bullets were now confident as they dominated possession and created more chances.
In the 18th minute a through ball from Mwaungulu found Gumbo in the goal area but his weak short was easily dealt with by Majanga.
With their main attack trio of Gilbert Chirwa, Paul Master and Micium Mhone yet to come to the party, Eagles failed to create tangible scoring opportunities.
However, after half time, the Malawi Police Service outfit came back from the tunnels reorganised.
Wingers Richard Lapson and Trouble Banda got more involved from the wings, giving Bullets some work to do.
No wonder Eagles finally got their goal from substitute striker Christopher Gototo who replaced Tonic Viyuyi.
Bullets coach Kallisto Pasuwa responded by making four substitutions, bringing in Ephraim Kondowe, Stanley Billiat, Nickson Nyasulu and Precious Phiri for Peter Banda, Nkhoma, Kajoke and Chawanangwa Gumbo.
The substitution immediately made an impact as Kondowe made it 3-1 to Bullets in the 80th minute.
But Eagles were not done yet; straight from restarting the match, they pulled one back again in the 81st minute this time through Lapson.
Bullets defender Blessings Mpokera was sent off for time wasting on the 93rd minute.
The police side did all they could to level the scores, but Bullets withdrew into their half to protect the slender lead to the end as they made it to the second final in the 2023 season.
The victory was a sweet revenge for Bullets who lost to Blue Eagles in the 2018 Airtel Top 8 final ta the same venue.
The Malawi Police Service side won the 2018 edition after stunning Bullets 1-0 courtesy of a 90th minute Stuart Mbunge goal from the spot.
Eagles assistant coach Christopher Sibale in post-match interviews said they lost the plot after conceding two quick goals in the opening minutes of the match.
The tactician said they tried to come back into the game in the second half but playing catch-up proved was at their disadvantage.
On his part, Bullets coach Kallisto Pasuwa said his was relieved to make into the final after the victory over Eagles, a team that has always given them problems in cup games.
To make it to the semis, Bullets knocked out Civil Service United while Blue Eagles booted out Moyale Barracks.