Forlan's pair help Uruguay top host South Africa

Uruguay's Diego Forlan celebrates after scoring against South

Uruguay's Diego Forlan celebrates after scoring against South Africa during a Group A match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (June 16, 2010) (Credit: AP)

PRETORIA, South AfricaSouth African fans blew their vuvuzelas long and loud, hoping to bring their team luck in the World Cup.

Uruguay’s Diego Forlan had other ideas and brought the party to a crashing halt, scoring two goals in a 3-0 victory Wednesday night that pushed the hosts closer to exiting the first World Cup staged in Africa. That would be a first for a host country in the World Cup.

While Forlan greatly improved Uruguay’s chances of making the second round, Bafana Bafana almost certainly must beat France in its next game to stay alive.

If South Africa doesn’t advance, “obviously all the expectations of the nation will be frustrated,” coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. “This game was vital for us to at least get a draw.”

Forlan scored on a deflected 25-yard shot in the 24th minute, then converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute for a commanding lead. Alvaro Pereira added a goal in stoppage time.

“Obviously, as a forward I like to score goals, but the important thing is to win,” Forlan said. “The team is good. We also played well against France. We’re very solid.”

Making matters worse for South Africa, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was ejected by Swiss referee Massimo Busacca in the 76th minute for clipping the leg of Luis Suarez as the forward jumped over him in front of an open net. Khune lowered his head to the ground and angrily pounded the field with both fists.

Parreira called Busacca “the worst referee in this competition so far.”

“I hope I don’t see his face in any game anymore,” he said.

Backup Moneeb Josephs took over in goal as star midfielder Steven Pienaar exited.

Forlan put the penalty kick over the goalkeeper’s outstretched right hand for his second goal, matching his pair for Atletico Madrid against Fulham in last month’s Europa League final.

The constant bee-like noise from the vuvuzelas immediately ebbed, and streams of fans started exiting, leaving thousands of empty blue seats by the time Pereira knocked in Suarez’s cross.

Uruguay, which opened with a 0-0 draw against France, has four points going into its group-play finale against Mexico on Tuesday. South Africa wasted a second-half lead in a 1-1 tie against Mexico in last week’s World Cup opener, and has one point. It plays France on Tuesday in Bloemfontein.

The situation will become a little clearer Thursday when Mexico meets Les Bleus.

“We are convinced that we can win the World Cup,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “We don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. We have to play very well each time. Winning this victory over the home team, the national squad, with all the fans behind them, this was not easy.”

South Africa midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi also will be suspended for the France match after getting a yellow card for the second straight game. He received it for fouling Suarez in the 42nd minute.

Fans were on the streets of Pretoria for hours before the match. It was a national holiday, Youth Day, commemorating the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, when students protested an apartheid-era government order to make Afrikaans the main language in secondary schools.

Loftus Versfeld, a rugby stadium on the grounds that’s been used for sports in Pretoria since 1906, was filled with shivering fans of Bafana Bafana. On an unseasonably cold night, with a 40-degree temperature, they wore their yellow jerseys over winter jackets and many covered their heads with caps in the colors of the multiracial flag South Africa adopted in 1994.

Uruguay went ahead when Forlan’s shot that hit South Africa captain Aaron Mokeona on his shoulder and looped over Khune.

The closest South Africa came to scoring was in the 66th minute, when Katlego Mphela’s close-range header off a cross at the near post was off-target, Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera got the shutout on his 24th birthday.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Vote

Which team will win the 2010 World Cup?

Netherlands Spain

advertisement | advertise on newsday