Marquez Spoils World Cup Party

by Michael Somerville

Friday, June 11th, 2010

South Africa 1
Mexico 1

A fair result in Soccer City saw a share of the spoils after Siphi Tshabalala fantastic 54th minute strike.

Mexico started extremely brightly as Giovanni nearly prodded in after 2 minutes after a mistake by goalkeeper Itumeleng Kumbe. The ‘dark horses’ of the competition were looking tasty, whipping in some delectable crosses. The likes of Dikgacoi and Pienaar couldn’t get their foot on the ball to impose themselves on the game.

South Africa made some decent inroads into the Mexican half and were fanatically urged on by adoring supporters. However, Mexico broke forward with pace and style with Arsenal starlet Carlos Vela and West Ham star Guillermo Franco testing the South African full backs. A real sense of fluidity, flair and tidiness summed up the Mexicans in the first half, bringing to mind the elegance at which they played at Wembley last month against England.

Franco missed a header from a corner in the 14th minute and before too long another chance went begging just after the half an hour mark. Those chances did cost Mexico after all. A nice move by South Africa won them a free kick 25 yards out, but Pienaar just couldn’t get enough dip after 18 minutes. South Africa were looking to impose themselves on the game as Mexico continued to make good chances.

A fabulous jinking run from Giovanni saw his shot being blasted wide and shortly after Kume pulled off a great stop to deny Franco. The big keeper made himself big and did the job well. There seemed to be a lot of space on the wings for the likes of Vela and Giovanni to exploit and Vela just pulled a shot wide in the 33rd minute after more good work from centre forward Franco. Carlos Vela had the goal in the back of the net on 37 minutes but was called offside after a brillant call from the Uzbeki linesman. Who needs technology if you’ve got that sort of sharp-eye watching the game? Superb.

The wonderfully energetic Siphi Tshabalala proved a bit of a handful on the left wing for Mexico but needed more support from the likes of Mphela and midfielder Renielwe Letsholonyane in order to sustain his penetrating runs. South Africa grew into the game as the first half drew to a close, pleasing their fans after good work by Tshabalala. Fulham man Dikgacoi headed over the bar just before the break after Mexico goalkeeper Perez looked nervy in dealing with previous forays into his penalty area.

The South African crowd (and most neutrals) were right behind the host nation to make it more of a contest in the second half.

An absorbing first half drew to a close but nerves still seemed to be playing it’s part in Bafana Bafana’s ambitions. Both teams were attacking minded which was very good to see, although you suspect there was some quality lacking up front.

Bafana-Bafana looked to play on the counter attack with Mexico looking to piece together intricate passing moves to unlock the SA defence- well marshalled by captain Aaron Mokoena. Rafael Marquez also looked solid for Mexico and fairly handy with the set-piece slightly justifying his $150.4 million buy out clause at Barcelona.

The second half settled into the same pattern as the first. Mexico skillfully attacked the South Africans with the hosts attempting to contain the South Americans. Steven Pienaar struggled to assert himself on the game but as a team, South Africa just about did enough to step the tide

Out of nowhere and against the run of play, a brilliant goal from left midfielder wonder Siphi Tshabalala in the 54th minute saw Soccer City go stir-crazy. Incisive passing on the counter attack and a fantastic finish was surely masterminded by Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. It was one of the best World Cup opening goals ever, and what a location to do it in.

Mexico were left chasing a game that they were looking clear favourites to win, but that’s the magic of the World Cup for you. Andres Guardado replaced Aguilar after 56 mins, presumably to add an extra attacking edge on the left wing.

South African midfielder Modiese got hold of a direct through ball with some excellent close control in the 69th minute but couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat keeper Perez.

Manchester Uniteds new signing Javi Hernandes looked to make some space for Mexico and his impact was almost instant.

Just as the game seemed to be petering out, Rafael Marquez took advantage of some slack South African defending to drill the ball past Khune from eight yards out twelve minutes from time. Soccer City was momentarily silenced before the ‘vuvuleza’ quickly struck up again!

More pressing from the hosts followed and they didn’t seem to want the game to end, but a draw was a fair result.

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every single World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.

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  • dexylongshot

    Lovin it lovin it lovin it! Took the day of to get into full on World Cup mode (I acttually woke at 4 in the am with excitement!!!). Wonderful opening ceremony and atmosphere and was really happy when the bafana bafana wnt in front. Those horns don’t half make a racket!

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