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Football | MTN8

James Keene challenges Nkanyiso Mngwengwe © BackpagePix

Wits overcome stubborn Arrows



Bidvest Wits defeated Golden Arrows 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in the MTN8 Cup quarterfinal match at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday night.

As a result, the Clever Boys, who are the defending champions advance to the semifinals, while Abafana Bes'thende bow out of the tournament.

Although, the Clever Boys were the better side in the opening stages, it was Abafana Bes'thende who broke the deadlock against the run of play 11 minutes into the match.

Siphelele Magubane played an excellent cross which found Lerato Lamola, who headed past Wits' experienced goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs to make it 1-0 to Arrows.

Nine minutes later, Wits suffered another blow when Slavko Damjanovic, who was making his competitive debut for the hosts, received a red card for a high foot incident.

Abafana Bes'thende then took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 24th minute as Kudakwashe Mahachi made it 2-0 to Arrows with Wayde Jooste grabbing a well-deserved assist.

However, Wits were awarded a penalty after Vincent Pule was fouled in the Arrows box two minutes later and James Keene pulled one back for hosts from spot-kick.

The momentum was with the Clever Boys towards the half-hour mark as the defending MTN8 Cup champions pushed for an equalising goal against Abafana Bes'thende.

Arrows' hard-man Danny Phiri received his second yellow card and the midfielder was sent off and, as a result, both teams were reduced to 10 men just before the halftime break.

The score was 2-1 to Arrows during the halftime break following an action packed first-half which produced three goals and two red cards.

Wits had a chance to equalise from a free-kick in a promising area 10 minutes into the second half, but Pule's effort from the set-piece was easily saved by Arrows keeper Nkosingiphile Gumede.

Pressure was mounting on the Arrows defence and Wits deservedly equalised following a mistake by Lehlohonolo Nonyane, and Keene scored from close range to make it 2-2 in the 61st minute.

Nonyane tried to atone for his mistake in the 78th minute, but Josephs was alert as he made a great low save to deny the left-back as Abafana Bes'thende looked to restore their lead.

With five minutes left, Wits introduced veteran attacking midfielder Steven Pienaar, who made his competitive debut for the hosts as Wits searched for a late winning goal.

However, Arrows were able to contain Wits in the closing stages of regulation time and, ultimately, the encounter headed into extra-time with the two sides locked at 2-2.

Former Ajax Amsterdam and Borussia Dortmund star Pienaar found some space outside the Arrows box and fired just over the crossbar a few minutes into the first half of extra-time.

Arrows were later reduced down to nine men in the early stages of the second half of extra-time when Siyabonga Dube headbutted Wits striker Mhango near the two benches.

Wits then pressed Arrows in the remaining minutes of the match, but they were unable to snatch the winning goal and the match went into a penalty shootout.

The defending champions Wits won 4-3 on penalties after Arrows missed three penalties and Pule was deservedly named Man of the Match.

Wits (2) 2 (Keene 26', 61')
Arrows (1) 2 (Lamola 11', Mahachi 24')

Wits: Josephs, Frosler, Hlanti, Hlatshwayo, Damjanovic, Scott (Khumalo 22'), Monare, Claasen (Pienaar 84'), Pule (Mhango 75'), Pelembe, Keene.
Arrows: Gumede, Dube, Nonyane, Mzava, Mngwengwe, Phiri, Cele, Mahachi, Magubane (Sibiya 22'), Jooste (Bilankulu 46'), Lamola (Mutziwe 95')



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