South Africa defeated Italy 3-2 to earn their first Women’s World Cup victory and advance to the round of 16 at the expense of their opponents, thanks to a late-second goal from Thembi Kgatlana.
The Italians, who only needed a draw to advance, were devastated when striker Kgatlana scored two minutes into stoppage time to send her team to Sydney to play the Netherlands on Sunday in the round of 16.
Arianna Caruso’s goal from a corner in the 74th minute appeared to give Italy the draw they needed, but a string of late squandered opportunities left them wondering what could have been.
In the 10th minute, Italy striker Chiara Beccari was fouled by Karabo Dhlamini well inside the box, and Caruso confidently scored the penalty to give the Italians the lead.
Benedetta Orsi’s own goal in the 32nd minute gave South Africa the advantage after she failed to look for goalie Francesca Durante before completing a back pass.
In the 67th minute, Kgatlana’s deft inside pass found Hildah Magaia clear behind the defence, and the striker swept it into the goal to give Banyana Banyana their first lead.
Seven minutes later, Caruso responded from a corner when the ball clipped her hip during a scuffle in the goalmouth and slammed into the bottom right corner of the net.
In a frenetic finish, it appeared as though Italy might hold on for a point, but Kgatlana’s last gasp goal secured second place for the South Africans in group G , behind Sweden who topped the group with 9 points.
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