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Varsity Football

Dramatic Shootouts Determine Finalists

Both semifinals ended deadlocked and had to be settled by the dreaded penalty shootout, with TUT securing a home Final against UJ.
TUT were held goalless at the end of regulation time by NWU-Mafikeng but held their nerve when it mattered most to secure a 4-3 penalty shootout victory to bag the right to host the Final on September 22.
UJ emulated their 2014 feat of reaching the Final when they claimed a 4-3 victory on penalties over CUT in Bloemfontein. CUT held a slender 1-0 lead at the break before UJ levelled matters and the match had to be settled by a shootout.
All the semifinal action!
TUT 0(4) - 0(3) NWU-Mafikeng
The home side had the momentum in the opening exchanges with two efforts, a Sipho Sibiya header and a free-kick, flying over the crossbar. NWU began to settle and employed a long ball tactic that frustrated TUT's midfield, who were seeing very little of the ball.
The best chance of the half fell to the home side in the 19th minute when NWU's goalkeeper mistimed a clearance punch but his defenders bailed him out and cleared the ball off the line. Both sides created half chances after that but the remainder of the half was characterised by off the ball niggling and poorly timed tackles.
There was a sombre feeling in the air though as the usually boisterous TUT crowd were kept silent for the majority of the half. The cagey affair continued throughout the half as the teams remained deadlocked at the break.
TUT held much of the possession for most of the third quarter and began to make use of the long ball themselves which troubled the NWU defence but the visitors scrambled well enough to keep the home side at bay.
The final 12 minutes belonged to the visitors as they carved out a few chances. The best of those came in the 79th minute when an Orebotse Mongae free kick was whipped in and found the head of Ngwenya but the header was tipped over the bar.
Controversy showed its ugly head in the 88th minute when Mbatha received a second yellow card and was subsequently shown red. However, he was on the wrong end of a wild Sibiya challenge but the defender's dramatic reaction resulted in the referee booking the attacking player.
Despite being a man down, NWU continued to press forward in search of a late winner and had two chances to do so but it was not meant to be as the match had to be settled by a shootout.
With the sides deadlocked at 1-1 after two attempts each, TUT goalkeeper Lloyd Morulane pulled off an all-important save. Both teams scored from that point and, with the score at 3-3, Morulane took charge of the final penalty.
He rifled the shot into the top corner to send the home fans into ecstasy.
CUT 1(3) - 1(4) UJ
The teams had a feel for each other in the opening minutes with the first real shot going the way of UJ in the 10th minute. UJ continued to be in the ascendency for the next five minutes until CUT launched a counter attack.
It saw them isolate UJ's Hayden Slava, who - in desperation - brought down his opponent inside the box. Tshepo Tshikare stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to hand the home side a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Despite conceding, UJ remained on the attack and were awarded a free-kick in the 35th minute. The ball was fired past the wall and into the bottom corner but the referee, after consulting with his linesman, ruled that UJ captain Matthew Edwards had obstructed the keeper's view and disallowed the goal.
The visitors had numerous chances to bag an equaliser but were unable to do so at the half-time interval.
CUT remained on the back foot for long periods of the second half but all their efforts finally paid off in the 72nd minute when Tshepo Tolo got the much-deserved equaliser, albeit in a somewhat fortunate manner.
His shot from inside the box took a massive deflection and floated over the head of CUT's goalkeeper and dipped into the corner. There was to be no further scores as the teams went into a penalty shootout.
The teams were tied at 3-3 after four kicks each and it all came down to the final attempts. UJ captain Matthew Edwards found the top corner with his effort to hand the visitors a 4-3 lead. The equation was simple for CUT, miss and lose. That is exactly what happened as UJ goalkeeper Mpumelelo Sambo pulled off a brilliant save to secure the win.

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