City into the GF, Sturt into the Preliminary Final

RAA NPLSA Goals Wrap | Boral Finals Series 2021, Week Two

Sturt Lions progressed to the NPL Preliminary Final as they triumphed in a thrilling penalty shootout for the second week in a row, defeating South Adelaide 6-5 after they couldn’t be separated over 120 minutes.

Samed Altundag broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute after a contentious hand ball call, handing Sturt a 1-0 lead.

It was short-lived, though, as Liam Wooding’s deep cross found Jonathon Rideout, who deftly flicked the ball on the volley over the keeper with the outside of his right boot to equalise with ten minutes of regular time left.

Neither side was able to find a winner before the final whistle, but it took less than two minutes after the extra-time restart for Altundag to restore Sturt’s lead with a searing 30-yard strike that dipped and swerved into the bottom corner out of the reach of the keeper.

With the Panthers on the ropes, Alex Rideout dribbled through two defenders to curl an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Awal Dut, who nodded into the top corner in the 119th minute to send the tie to penalties.

However, Sturt stopper James Klappers was the hero once again, saving two South spot-kicks in a tight shootout to book the Lions’ place in a Preliminary Final against Adelaide Comets this weekend.

In the NPL semi-final, Adelaide City overturned a two-goal deficit at half-time of Friday’s second leg with three second-half strikes to win 3-2 on aggregate against Comets and secure a Grand Final berth at the minor premiers’ expense.