• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Women’s World Cup: South Africa secure last-16 spot with stunning win over Italy


African champions on Wednesday showed what determination could do as they stunned Italy 3-2 in an historic last-16 qualification feat.

South Africa reached the Women’s World Cup last 16 for the first ever time in a last-gasp Wellington thriller on Wednesday.

Needing victory to progress, Banyana Banyana showed guts and quality to stun the Europeans with a winning strike deep into added time from Thembi Kgatlana.

Her dramatic late finish sparked euphoric scenes as South Africa qualified ahead of Italy, who needed just a point to advance.

Arianna Caruso’s early penalty put Italy ahead before a calamitous backpass allowed Banyana to equalise through an own goal from Benedetta Orsi.

Against the run of play, Hildah Magaia then slotted South Africa in front after a defence-splitting pass from Kgatlana midway through the second half.

Read also: Women’s World Cup: Super Falcons battle ready for England, says Waldrum

Italy rallied through Caruso again, who diverted home Cristiana Girelli’s header to make it 2-2 and put them back on course for the last 16.

The match was a relentless battle, with both teams seeking the crucial advantage. Girelli, denied from close range by a spectacular save from South Africa’s goalkeeper Kaylin Swart, epitomized Italy’s determination to take the lead.

But Kgatlana had the final say, firing home from Magaia’s pass in the 92nd minute to spark euphoric celebrations among players and fans.

It marked the culmination of a remarkable World Cup turnaround by South Africa after losing their first group game against Sweden.

Coach Desiree Ellis’ side stayed alive in the tournament as the African champions continued their heroics following their recent successes on the continent.

The thrilling win propels South Africa into the Round of 16, where they will now face the Netherlands, setting the stage for an enthralling clash between two formidable teams.

A notable feat emerged from the encounter as Hildah Magaia showcased her goal-scoring prowess, becoming the first South African player to score more than one goal in a single edition of the Women’s World Cup.

In recognition of her outstanding performance, Magaia was deservedly named the Player of the Match, further solidifying her position as a key player for South Africa in their pursuit of World Cup glory.