Argentina comes back to deny South Africa its first World Cup win

South Africa's Linda Motlhalo, left, and Argentina's Aldana Cometti compete for the ball during the Women's World Cup Group G soccer match between Argentina and South Africa in Dunedin, New Zealand, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga)

South Africa was less than 30 minutes from its first ever Women’s World Cup win with a two-goal cushion, but Argentina didn’t go away.

The two lower-ranked teams in Group G played to a 2-2 draw that saw Argentina erase a 2-0 lead in the second half. The Banyana Banyana, ranked No. 54 in the world by FIFA, at least recorded their first World Cup point after losing three straight in their first appearance in 2019 and falling 2-1 to Sweden in the tournament opener, but they were on the verge of so much more.

South Africa’s first goal was a weird one. Thembi Kgatlana ran downfield after her team intercepted a pass and looked so clearly offside, Argentina didn’t take her attack seriously. Both defenders near her raised their arms and didn’t start running for a moment, leading to an impossibly easy goal for Linda Motlhalo.

VAR, however, noticed one Argentina defender who had been running forward didn’t quite cross Kgatlana until after the ball was on the way, giving South Africa first blood.

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South Africa’s confidence got even higher when Kgatlana scored in the 66th minute, but then Argentina started to wake up. A game that had been fairly even by time of possession began skewing La Albiceleste’s way, leading to two goals in five minutes to even the match and knock the air out of South Africa.

Sophia Braun scored the first goal in the 74th minute, then Romina Núñez knocked in a beauty for the equalizer in the 79th.

The result leaves both teams needing a win, and possibly some help, in their third and final matches to reach the knockout rounds. South Africa will face Italy, which beat Argentina 1-0, while Argentina will get No. 3 ranked Sweden. Both figure to be underdogs.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 28: Lauren James of England celebrates scoring during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group D match between England and Denmark at Sydney Football Stadium on July 28, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

England 1, Denmark 0

Lauren James’ goal in the sixth minute was enough for England to squeak out a 1-0 win over Denmark Friday morning as the English women could be without star midfielder Keira Walsh for an extended period of time.

Walsh was taken from the field on a stretcher in the 35th minute after she suffered a leg injury while stretching for a pass. She was seen on the world feed of the game telling trainers that she had injured her knee.

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Walsh was replaced by Laura Coombs in the midfield. England had already entered the World Cup without Leah Williamson and Beth Mead because of ACL injuries.

James’ goal came from outside the box as she found a bottom corner to put England up early.

England controlled the game for most of the match but Denmark had a chance in the second half. Amalie Vangsgaard hit the post on a header in the 87th minute in what turned out to be latest and best chance for the Danish to tie the game.

The win gives England six points and assures they will move on to the knockout rounds while a point against Haiti could be good enough for Denmark to advance.

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