Nathan Paulse and Franklin Cale scored to send SuperSport through.
Both teams showed off their new signings, with Paulse, Bevan Fransman, Roscoe Pietersen, Lucas Thwala and George Maluleka turning out for SuperSport, and Taonga Dondo, Luyanda Hlongwa and Daniel Cordosa making their debuts for Free State Stars.
After a stop-start opening three minutes, Kennedy Mweene made the first save of the game when he pushed over Paulse’s glancing header, while Pietersen pulled off a good block at the near post from a Free State Stars’ corner in the 5th minute.
Dondo created the first real chance for the visitors when his 12th-minute effort went over Ronwen Williams’ goal.
Thwala was left hopelessly exposed on the left side of SuperSport’s defence and Katlego Mashego’s pace was too much for him in the 22nd minute, however Ea Lla Koto lacked the finishing touch.
Just before the half-hour mark, Maluleka supplied a great ball into the box, which found Paulse, and his glancing header put Gavin Hunt’s men in the lead.
10 minutes later, Stars coach Steve Komphela was given his marching orders by the referee Daniel Bennett after he tried to voice his disappointment about the tackles on his players.
Ashley Hartog came close to making it 2-0 in the 44th, after his swirling volley went over the bar.
Then SuperSport went further ahead when Cale sent in a swirling shot, which evaded everybody and snuck in at the far post.
Free State Stars finally managed to pull a goal back through the impressive Katlego Mashaba in the 63rd minute, when he latched onto a poor piece of defending by Pietersen to chip it into the back of the net.
Mabhuti Khenyeza replaced a tired Paulse in the 70th minute, but a minute later Williams made an excellent save to deny what looked like a clear goal, and SuperSport ended up 2-1 winners to eliminate Stars from the MTN8.
SuperSport United: Williams; Pietersen, Fransman, Thwala, Nkausu; Maluleka, Gyimah, Maluleke (Mdluli 74’), Cale; Paulse (Khenyeza 70’), Hartog
Free State Stars: Mweene; Sambu, Ouro-Akoriko, Cardoso, Masehe; Mashego, Wome (Nomandela 80’), Mashaba, Wiltwer (Mvula 65’); Hlongwa (Chivuta 53’), Dondo