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South Africa, France crash out

Last updated on: June 22, 2010 22:26 IST

South Africa, France crash out

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South Africa became the first host country in the FIFA World Cup history to crash out in the opening round despite a 2-1 victory over France, who also ended their miserable campaign with 10 men after Yoann Gourcuff was sent off in a Group A match in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

The valiant effort by the Bafana Bafana, who scored through Bongani Khumalo (20th) and Katlego Mphela (37th) ultimately was not enough as Uruguay and Mexico sailed into the round of 16 from Group A after the former's 1-0 victory in Rustenburg.

South Africa ended the group stage on four points, same as Mexico, but the Latin Americans made it to the round of 16 as second-placed team on better goal difference while Uruguay topped the pool with seven points.

South Africa have a goal difference of minus two as against plus one of Mexico.


Image: A fan carries a placard bidding farewell to the French and South African teams
Photographs: Reuters
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Khumalo put the hosts ahead

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The 1998 champions France, embroiled in a protest by the leading players after the sending back of striker Nicolas Anelka following his bust up with coach Raymond Domenech, emulated their 2006 feat by crashing out in the first round but improved a bit by scoring one more goal to the none four years ago.

Domenech dropped as many as six players, including captain Patrice Evra who led the players' strike, from the starting XI that lost 0-2 against Mexico but that did not result in an improved show from the Europeans.  

France had the better ball possession in the initial stages of the match but their hopes of making it to the round of 16 evaporated after Bongani Khumalo outjumped Abou Diaby to connect a Siphiwe Tshabalala corner kick into the net.


Image: South Africa's Bongani Khumalo (C) celebrates his goal during the 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match against France at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein

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Gourcuff was sent off by referee Ruiz

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The Les Bleus were unlucky to have reduced to 10 men by the 26th minute as TV replays clearly showed that Gourcuff elbow contact with the head of Macbeth Sibaya was apparently not intentional and harmless though the Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz thought otherwise.

The game was as good as over for France thereafter.

Thierry Henry, who came in for Djibril Cisse in the 55th minute, wore the captain's arm band but could not do much in the match. 


Image: Referee Ruiz gestures after showing the red card to France's Gourcuff for a foul on South Africa's Sibaya

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Mphela sealed the French fate

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The home crowd, who cheered with deafening sound at every move of their team, went wild in the 37th minute after a cross from the left hit defender Abou Diaby only to fall on striker Katlego Mphela who tapped into an empty net from three yards.

One-man more than their opponents but the South Africans still could not go for the kill in the second session though Mphela got two more scoring chances.

First France keeper Hugo Lloris dived to his right to save Mphela's strike in the 58th minute and then blocked the same South African striker's another effort five minutes later. 

Florent Malouda, who came in for Gignac in the second half, scored France's only goal of the World Cup from what perhaps could be their best move of the tournament. 

Bacary Sagna slided Franck Ribery in on the right of the box and he intelligently squares for Malouda to roll into an empty net. 

Despite the goal, France knew early into the match that they would not go beyond the first round.


Image: South Africa's Katlego Mphela (R) scores a goal past France's Gael Clichy (centre) and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

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Uruguay topped Group A with seven points

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Meanwhile, Uruguay secured a place in the second round of the World Cup finals for the first time since 1990 when they beat Latin American rivals Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday.

The result meant Uruguay topped Group A and Mexico also went through despite losing by virtue of having a better goal difference than hosts South Africa.

"We're going to take it one game at a time ... now we've been lucky enough to achieve our first goal which was to get through the group phase," said Uruguay's goalscorer Luis Suarez.


Image: Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates with team mate Diego Forlan after scoring against Mexico

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Uruguay had to resist Mexican pressure

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A well-made and perfectly-taken headed goal by striker Suarez after 43 minutes settled the outcome of the match as Mexico lost their way after an evenly-balanced first half.

In a tightly contested, but open game, with no sign of any intention to play for a draw, Uruguay, champions in 1930 and 1950, had to resist Mexican pressure in the closing stages to keep a third straight clean sheet.

The first half was littered with stoppages, tension seeming to grip both teams.

As the sun went down, Mexico, playing the more intricate football, had the best early chance when Andres Guardado fired in a wicked left-foot drive from 30 metres that rebounded off the bar.

But Uruguay were in no mood to be dazzled or unnerved and, combining strength with pace in attack, they gave as good as they received in an evenly-balanced and, at times, fascinating contest.

Uruguayan midfielder Diego Perez suffered a cut head, apparently from an errant elbow, and required treatment before returning in a vivid blue bandage, just before his side swept ahead after 43 minutes.


Image: Uruguay's Diego Perez walks off the field after he was injured during a 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match against Mexico at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg

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