World Cup 2010 - Mexico peg back South Africa

Fri, 11 Jun 16:57:00 2010

The World Cup opened with a pulsating 1-1 draw between South Africa and Mexico as a late goal deprived the hosts of victory before more than 84,000 passionate fans at the futuristic Soccer City in Johannesburg.

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The South Africans opened the scoring through Siphiwe Tshabalala who slammed a fierce left foot drive into the net in the 55th minute against the run of play in a match dominated early on by Mexico.

But Rafael Marquez equalised 11 minutes from time, driving home from close range as the South African defence were caught napping.

South Africa are hoping to avoid becoming the first host nation to exit at the group stage but made a nervous start before their home fans.

As early as the third minute, home keeper Itumeleng Khune failed to hold a low cross from the right and Giovani Dos Santos almost smuggled in the rebound only for Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena to divert the shot for a corner.

Tottenham's Dos Santos was at the heart of all Mexico's best moves and a fiercely struck shot from 20 yards swerved wide while Marquez and Guillermo Franco passed up presentable headed opportunities.

Khune made an excellent save on the half hour after Carlos Vela picked out Franco with a delightful chip but the home keeper made himself big and clawed away the goalbound effort from close range.

Arsenal's Vela had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before Franco spurned an even better chance with his head, failing to hit the target from 10 yards.

South Africa did finish the first-half on the front foot and Tshabalala's delicious centre was just a couple of centimetres away from being met by the head of Katlego Mphela.

And it was Kaizer Chiefs winger Tshabalala who broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second period.

Crisp one-touch play in the build-up to the goal paved the way for Teko Modise to exploit a hole in the right-side of the Mexico defence with a great pass but it still required a cracking strike to beat Oscar Perez, a rasping diagonal shot followed by a choreographed dance from the Bafana Bafana players.

Khune was swiftly called into action to turn away a fierce strike from Giovani that was heading for the top corner while at the other end Modise's shot was saved by the legs of the outrushing Perez. Francisco Rodriguez did just enough to prevent the Orlando Pirates midfielder from getting away a clean effort.

But the deafening sound from thousands of home fans blowing their vuvuzelas throughout the match finally abated as Barcelona's Marquez equalised.

South Africa were caught napping at a corner and Marquez was left free at the back post - the veteran took down the cross supremely before dispatching into the net.

There was still late drama however as Mphela hit the post in the final minute. A long ball over the top again saw Mexico exploited but the Mamelodi Sundowns striker poked his effort against the near upright from close range.

However South Africa stretched their unbeaten to 14 matches since Carlos Alberto Parreira started his second spell as national team coach in October 2009 to give themselves a fighting chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time in their history.

Match Stats:

South Africa - Mexico

Goals 1-1

Shots on Target 3-3

Shots off Target 6-8

Blocked Shots 1-5

Corners 4-5

Fouls 17-13

Offsides 4-6

Yellow Cards 2-2

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 78.8%-86.1%

Tackles 15-22

Tackles Success 60%-86.4%

Possession 35.1%-64.9%

Territorial Advantage 46.8%-53.2%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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