South Africa earned their first-ever Women’s World Cup victory with a 3-2 victory over Italy, sending them to the round of 16. Thembi Kgatlana scored an excellent winner and helped her side to taste and experience their first-ever victory. Striker Kgatlana scored two minutes into stoppage time to send her team to Sydney for a match against the Netherlands on Sunday, breaking the hearts of the Italians, who needed a draw to reach the round of 16.
Italy thought to have salvaged a point when Arianna Caruso scored from a corner in the 74th minute, but they were forced to ponder what could have been after a series of late squandered opportunities. In the 10th minute, Karabo Dhlamini tripped Italy’s Chiara Beccari just inside the box, and Caruso converted the penalty with a confident effort into the bottom left corner of the net.
South Africa equalized in the 32nd minute on an own goal by Benedetta Orsi, who made a back pass without checking where goalkeeper Francesca Durante was on the field. In the 67th minute, Kgatlana’s clever inside pass found Hildah Magaia open behind the defensive line, and the forward swept it into the net.
Seven minutes later, Caruso responded from a corner when the ball touched her hip in a goalmouth scramble and cannoned into the bottom right corner of the goal. Italy appeared to be heading for a frenzied draw until Magaia’s pass found Kgatlana in the area and the striker slammed the ball into the net to secure second place in the group behind Sweden.
Meanwhile, in another encounter, France registered a comfortable 6-3 win over debutants Panama to reach the round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup. Kadidiatou Diani was the star of the night as the French forward netted a hat-trick.
Les Bleues simply needed a draw against winless Panama in the Group F match. Despite missing captain Wendie Renard and all-time leading scorer Eugenie Le Sommer, France dominated the game after conceding in the second minute, with goals from Maelle Lakrar, Lea Le Garrec, and Vicki Becho.
Marta Cox created history with a stunning 35-yard free kick that curled into the top corner, netting Panama’s first-ever Women’s World Cup goal. Cox sobbed before being surrounded by teammates.
France will be playing its round of 16 match on August 8, Tuesday at Hindmarsh Stadium. The French women will lock horns with either Germany or Morocco to claim a spot in the quarter-finals.