Argentina scored two game-saving goals in a flurry of five minutes during the second half Friday to salvage a 2-2 draw with South Africa at the Women’s World Cup.
The draw gave both teams a single point in Group G. Sweden and Italy, the co-leaders of the group with three points each, play Saturday.
Sophia Braun sent the ball soaring into the top right corner of the net in the 74th minute to get Argentina on the board. Romina Nunez tied it with a header in the 79th.
The game was played before just 8,834 spectators in Dunedin Stadium, but those in attendance made their support known for both of the teams.
Linda Motlhalo scored in the 30th minute for South Africa when she knocked in a pass from Thembi Kgatlana when play slowed because Argentine players thought South Africa was offside. Kgatlana later added a goal herself in the 66th minute.
The draw gave South Africa its first ever point in the Women's World Cup. South Africa lost every match in the group stage at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, as well as this tournament opener.
But the Banyana Banyana are more competitive this time around and t ook the lead against Sweden in the opener before losing 2-1.
South African team captain Refiloe Jane was stretchered off in the 22nd minute for an apparent injury to her left ankle. The midfielder went down after colliding mid-air with an Argentinian player, who seemed unhurt.
In the 79th minute, Nunez tied the match with a header into the bottom corner of the net, just out of reach of diving South African goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. Argentine fans celebrated loudly in the stands.
WHY IT MATTERS
South Africa got its first point in Women's World Cup play, but both teams are still searching for their first victory. South Africa has played five matches, while Argentina has played 11 in their respective histories.
Each team could still advance to the knockout stage, though they will still be tied for last place headed into the final Group G matches.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“I told them to play to have fun, to dribble, to play their best game. That’s why we’re here. I told them to play with that love that characterizes our football,” said Argentina coach German Portanova, on what he told the team down 2-0.
“Obviously we are disappointed because we could have taken three points. But we still stand a chance. We’re gonna go back hard and work on our game,” said South Africa defender Karabo Dhlamini.
Argentina wraps up group play against Sweden in Hamilton. South Africa also concludes its Group G matches as it plays Italy in Wellington. Both matches are Wednesday.
Ellen McIntyre is a student in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.