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South Africa into last 16 with first World Cup win

 

South Africa are through to the last 16 after claiming their first Women’s World Cup win with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Italy in Wellington.

Channel 1

Thembi Kgatlana’s 92nd-minute winner proved the difference after Italy fought back to level with an Arianna Caruso header.

A draw would have been enough to take Italy into the knockout rounds.

South Africa will play Group E winners the Netherlands on Sunday.

After earning a first World Cup point in their 2-2 draw with Argentina, South Africa have shown significant progress from their debut appearance at the tournament in 2019, when they lost all three group matches.

There were scenes of jubilation for the South Africa players when the final whistle confirmed they had made history for their nation.

With a win certain to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds, Italy got off to the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty as Karabo Dhlamini caught the heels of teenager Chiara Beccari.

Referee Maria Carvajal awarded a free-kick, but a swift video assistant referee intervention concluded the foul had been committed inside the penalty area and Caruso calmly converted from the spot to put Italy in command of their World Cup future.

However, South Africa were gifted a leveller as Benedetta Orsi, playing her first World Cup match, was left red-faced when she hit a no-look back pass to an unexpectant Francesca Durante and it rolled into her own net.

Desiree Ellis’ side burst into the lead when Kgatlana slipped a clever ball through the Italy defence to put Hildah Magaia through on goal and she lifted it over Durante.

VAR seemed like it may have come to South Africa’s rescue when Caruso equalised from a corner, but after a lengthy delay the goal was given.

Italy hearts were broken when Magaia stepped through the defence and squared it Kgatlana, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.

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