Argentina and South Africa settled for an exciting 2-2 draw in their Women’s World Cup Group G clash at Dunedin Stadium on Friday which kept both teams alive in the tournament but dented their hopes of progressing.
The South Americans had to fight back from 2-0 down after the Africans scored goals through Linda Motlhalo on the half-hour mark and Thembi Kgatlana in the 66th minute.
Motlhalo tapped the ball into the net from a Kgatlana pass after the winger had raced onto a long ball with the Argentinian defenders standing – still assuming she was offside. VAR confirmed Kgatlana had been behind the last defender.
For all its neat approach work, Argentina looked unable to threaten Kaylin Swart in the South African goal, and its first attempts on target did not come until the second half.
In the 74th minute, though, Sophia Braun launched a stunning long-range strike that curled into the corner of the net to cut the deficit in half and Romina Nunez’s header five minutes later levelled up the scores.
The entertaining draw leaves both sides with a single point – South Africa’s first in five World Cup matches — and highly unlikely to progress from a group also containing European powers Sweden and Italy, who play later on Saturday.
“We had the chances to win this game today but we just threw it away,” said South Africa coach Desiree Ellis.
Argentina will now face Sweden on Wednesday, while South Africa plays Italy at the same time, with both teams looking for an historic first Round of 16 berth.
“We never gave up and we played our hearts out. We wanted to win but we are happy with this comeback,” Braun said.
“We are looking forward to playing Sweden. It will be another battle and we are ready for it.”
Argentina forward Yamila Rodriguez, who recently faced criticism on social media over a tattoo, added: “I always want the best for my team. I feel that if we were given five more minutes we could have turned it around.
“Nothing is impossible. Now it’s essential to rest well for the last game.”