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ConIFA WFC Semi-Final: Northern Cyprus 3-2 Padania @ War Memorial Sports Ground, Carshalton


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Northern Cyprus ended Padania's 100% record to book a place in Saturday's World Football Cup final. Billy Mehmet scored two goals as his side come back from behind twice.

The opening stages were a cagey affair, with several hard tackles resulting in treatment needed on the pitch. The referee did a good job at preventing this from boiling over. Things threatened to get heated when midfielder Adil Ucar attempted to play the ball out so a Padan player could receive his treatment, his chip hit the player in the back causing the Padanian bench to rise to their feet in anger, though his immediate apology calmed tensions.

Generally, the beginning of the game saw chances few and far between except for a couple of long-range Padanian efforts which didn't look like finding the goal.

The tension on the pitch seemed to translate into nerves, with Kenan Ohsan chipping the ball onto the roof of the net having been played clean through. His Northern Cypriot teammate Halil Turan felt he had scored a near-post finish, but the referee adjudged the Padanians had succeeded in their frantic attempts to clear the ball off the line.

With their opponents beginning to assert their dominance and enjoying the majority of the support from the South London crowd, Padania struck. A good, fast passing move found Ersid Pllumbaj, who rifled in low from the centre of the goal for the first goal.

Just four minutes later and Turan and Mehmet linked up well before the latter turned under pressure and fired low into the bottom left corner, sparking a massive celebration on the bench.

Padania would score the next time they went forward, Innocenti produced a smart save from Hasan Giro, but with Northern Cyprus failing to clear the ball eventually found Nicolo Pavan in the inside left channel, who rifled home to give his side a 2-1 half-time lead.

In the second half, the game began to open up more. Unal Kaya was on hand to clear as Padania centre-back Marinus Stankevicius was lurking at the back post. Kaya himself was needed at the back blocking Pllumbaj as he fired a close-range finish at the other end. 

Stankevicius found the ball drop kindly to him on the corner, but Kaya again was on hand to clear before the former Lithuanian international could react. 

Yasin Kurt then went on a darting run down the right flank and went down in the box but a penalty was not given.

Halil Turan then finally got the second equaliser just 10 minutes from time finally breaking the Padania defence with a bullet header from a corner.

Four minutes later, Mehmet sent Northern Cyprus into the final with his second against the reigning European Champions.

Racing onto a loose ball, Mehmet fired low past Murriello in the Padania goal.

Northern Cyprus could have had a fourth after Turan burst through on goal but he was unable to finish the move. Kurt was on hand to clear the ball from an onrushing Pantioni but it was Northern Cyprus who had the last real chance of the game with Turan firing over.

Northern Cyprus booked their place in the final at Enfield, where there is a large Turkish Cypriot community. The players and fans celebrated wildly on the side of the pitch, having been so impressive against a strong Padania side, they must fancy their chances to lift the trophy. 

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