Spain stretched by brave Bafana

2009-06-29 00:00

IT was another brave performance, and another glorious defeat for Bafana Bafana, who took Spain to extra time in the third/fourth place Confederations Cup play-off at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg yesterday, where they ran out 3-2 losers.

A riveting game ended 2-2 at full time, both of South Africa’s goals being scored by substitute Katlego Mphela in his first appearance of the tournament.

After the 73rd-minute opener by Mphela, on for Steven Pienaar in the 64th, South Africa appeared headed for victory, but goals by Spanish substitute Daniel Guiza in the 88th and 89th stunned the home crowd.

Mphela then let rip with an unbelievable 35-metre free-kick with the last goal of normal time that sent the game to an extra half-hour, in which Xabi Alonso’s 107th-minute free-kick earned Spain the bronze medal.

Following their 1-0 defeat to Brazil in the semi-finals, Bafana again showed how they have grown in confidence in the Confederations Cup to improve dramatically on a 2-0 group stage defeat to the Spanish. They showed the world’s No.1-ranked team scant respect and matched them chance for chance.

Spain almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute when David Villa was played through on the left and attempted to curl his shot, but Itumeleng Khune pulled off a fingertip save.

Nine minutes later, Matthew Booth miscued his free header wide at the far post from Siphiwe Tshabalala’s free-kick.

In the 32nd minute Tshabalala’s curling free-kick was palmed away by Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Booth hit the rebound wide. Then Albert Riera was put through on the left and shot wide across goal.

Spain went up a gear in the second half and began to pepper the Bafana goal with shots.

Villa’s free-kick was parried by Khune, then Riera was through again after a chested one-two from Busquets, but Khune was again up to the save.

After a tired Pienaar and Teko Modise were replaced by Mphela and an impressive Elrio van Heerden, Bafana fought their way back into the game.

Parker put Tshabalala through on the left and the winger’s cross found Mphela ahead of the defence to control and finish past Casillas.

With two minutes left, Guiza was given space on the edge of the area to collect, turn and finish past Khune.

A minute later Guiza’s chip from the left was watched by Khune as it looped over his head and in at the left corner.

Three minutes into injury time, Mphela’s free-kick flew in past a despairing Casillas. Van Heerden’s chip over the top put Mphela through whose shot was saved by the legs of Casillas. The Real Madrid ’keeper then stopped Parker’s angled shot at full stretch.

Two minutes into the restart Xabi Alonso’s curling free-kick was not picked up by Khune and snuck in at the right-hand upright.

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