Thembi Kgatlana scored early in stoppage time Wednesday to give South Africa a 3-2 win over Italy and send it into the knockout rounds of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time.
On a night of high drama and low temperatures, Hilda Magaia scored in the 67th minute to put South Africa 2-1 ahead before Arianna Caruso equalized with her second goal of the match from a Cristiana Girelli corner, briefly denting South African hopes.
A draw would have been enough to put the world No.8 Italy into the knockout rounds.
READ MORE: Football great in disbelief over Americans’ ‘arrogant’ act
READ MORE: US swimming champ lashes Campbell’s ‘sore loser’ blast
READ MORE: Tubby casts doubt over ‘tough’ Warner decision
Instead, South Africa will play Netherlands in a round of 16 match on Sunday. Sweden finished atop Group G after beating Argentina 1-0 and will next play the defending champion US team.
Caruso’s 11th-minute penalty and Benedetta Orsi’s own goal earlier had combined to make it 1-1 in the first half in Wellington, where a southerly wind dropped temperatures close to freezing and reduced the crowd to around 10,000, mostly South Africans.
Karabo Dhlamini cut down Chiara Beccarri from behind on the edge of the area in the 11th, and Caruso sent her spot kick low and to the right of Kaylin Swart for her first World Cup goal.
Orsi mis-timed her no-look pass back to Francesca Durante in the 32nd and the keeper’s attempt at a sliding stop came too late to prevent the ball heading straight into the Italian goal.
Robyn Moodaly hit the post with a searing right-foot shot in the 21st and the VAR ruled out another Italy penalty for a hand ball before half time. Italy had 66 per cent of possession and more chances in the half but South Africa had a majority among supporters who braved the weather.
Play in Group G reached a conclusion which had elements of a well-turned thriller, with the last two matches played concurrently and almost every possibility still in play. As South Africa and Italy began their last group match in front of a small crowd, Sweden and Argentina kicked off in Hamilton.
That created the possibility of over-lapping finishes with placings established after one match still being contingent on the other.
Sweden led the group before Wednesday’s games with six points and a goal differential of +6; Italy was second with three points, Argentina and South Africa had one point each. That meant Sweden was definitely through to the round of 16, Italy had one foot in the knockout rounds and Argentina and South Africa both still could qualify with a win — depending on the outcomes.
South Africa took its first World Cup point when it drew 2-2 with Argentina five days ago. It led that match before Argentina scored two quick goals to draw, and also led before going down 2-1 to Sweden.
South Africa already has made an indelible mark on the tournament. Always high-spirited, it projects joy at being on the big stage. The South Africa players danced and sang before Wednesday’s match in their locker historic moment for South African women’s sport and on the field as they warmed up. They gave their song full voice at the end to hail a historic moment for South African women’s sport.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
Matildas v Canada in pictures: Australian players overjoyed after pulling off great escape; Olympic champs left in tears after World Cup exit
#South #Africa #Italy #result #video #highlights #Thembi #Kgatlana #injury #time #winner #sends #world #No.8 #tournament