The opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup saw host nation South Africa share the points with Mexico at a cacophonous Soccer City in Johannesburg. Only a late equalizer from Mexico’s Rafael Marquez ensured the Mexicans gained anything from a match that they dominated for long periods.
With the opening half controlled by Mexico, South Africa took only ten minutes of the second half to score against the run of play. After a thrilling break from defense, Siphiwe Tshabalala was fed a ball through the middle of the Mexican defense, and blasted an unstoppable left-foot strike high into the Mexican net from the left.
Soccer City duly exploded with noise, as Tshabalala led the choreographed celebrations (above).
Mexico were not to be denied, however, and on 78 minutes Marquez controlled an Andres Guardado cross and fired smartly past South Africa’s excellent goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune.
The spoils were duly shared, yet Mexico will feel hard done by after outplaying the South Africans for much of the match. Just before half-time, Guillermo Franco had the ball in the net for the Mexicans, yet the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Elsewhere, there was much profligacy on display from Mexico, with Giovani and Franco wasting gilt-edged chances.
Ironically, it was South Africa who came closest to snatching all three points in the last few moments, with striker Katlego Mphela rolling the ball against a post when it looked easier to score.
The other teams in Group A, France and Uruguay, play later this evening.