FIFA Women’s World Cup:South Africa Squander Two-goal Lead To Draw With Argentina

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By Sedara Philip

Argentina came from two goals down to draw with South Africa and deny them a first ever Women’s World Cup victory in a pulsating encounter in Dunedin.

Knowing defeat would take them to the brink of elimination, Argentina threw everything at Desiree Ellis’ side in a second half comeback.

Substitute Romina Nunez headed in their second after a superb half-volley from Sophia Braun had stunned South Africa.

Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana had put South Africa 2-0 up.

Glasgow City winger Motlhalo was teed up by Kgatlana, who stayed onside following a video assistant referee [VAR] review and later struck dangerously wide of the post.

Kgatlana should have extended their lead after the break when she sliced Jermaine Seoposenwe’s curling cross wide from close range, but the two combined later for South Africa’s second goal.

Argentina, who have yet to win a match at a Women’s World Cup, knew they could be eliminated before their final Group G game against Sweden, ranked third in the world, if they did not find a way back into the game and they were rewarded for their endeavour.

It was South Africa’s first point at a Women’s World Cup but for large parts of the game, they looked set for a historic win.

It was a frantic and remarkable contest in New Zealand where South Africa’s fearlessness and aggressive pressing dominated the first half.

Motlhalo and Kgatlana had starred, causing problems for Argentina and combining effectively to give South Africa what appeared to be a strong lead.

Argentina boss German Portanova reacted by making several substitutions and it was two of those who linked up for their second goal – Yamila Rodriguez’s cross was headed in expertly by Nunez.

There had been few chances for Argentina in the opening hour but Paulina Gramaglia’s attempted cross clipped the woodwork when it sliced over goalkeeper Kaylin Swart’s head at the end of the first half.

Instead the majority of the chances fell South Africa’s way and during lengthy first-half added time, they had a goal ruled out for offside, before Motlhalo struck dangerously wide of the post.

Racing Louisville forward Kgatlana spurned a few chances before netting South Africa’s second goal and that ultimately proved costly when Nunez, who had earlier volleyed it over the bar from close range, headed in Argentina’s equaliser.

South Africa face Italy in their final group match but could be without captain Refiloe Jane – who was taken off on a stretcher.

Jane’s replacement Kholosa Biyana picked up another yellow card and is ruled out against Italy with suspension, while Argentina face Olympic finalists Sweden in a tough final Group G match.

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