South Africa salvage pride with 2-1 over France; both exit (Lead)

June 22nd, 2010 - 11:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Arsenal Bloemfontein, June 22 (DPA) South Africa defeated 10-man France 2-1 Tuesday but that still made them the first World Cup football hosts to go out in the group stage and also sent home the shambolic Europeans.
Bongani Khumalo headed home a corner-kick 20 minutes into the game and Katlego Mphela made it 2-0 in the 37th as the hosts hoped for a miracle to make the round of 16, but failed to get the bigger win they needed.

Substitute Florent Malouda tapped home with 20 minutes left to silence the Free State Stadium crowd. France earlier had playmaker Yoann Gourcuff sent off in the 26th for elbowing in an aerial duel.

Uruguay defeated Mexico 1-0 in the other game which saw the South Americans first in the group and Mexico second by two goals over South Africa, with France last without a win as in their 2002 exit.

Les Bleus made even more negative headlines off the pitch with striker Nicolas Anelka sent home for insulting the unpopular outgoing coach Raymond Domenech and the players on strike on Sunday over it.

Domenech rang the changes after the last tumultous days, benching several players led by captain Patrice Evra who had led the protests against the sending home of Anelka.

Gael Clichy took the defensive place of Evra while up front Djibril Cisse came on for Anelka, and the allegedly unpopular Gourcuff back in the starting 11.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira also had a new lineup, including goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, in place of suspended Itumeleng Khune - as the hosts hoped for a miracle to stay alive and follow the proud tradition of World Cup hosts to make the second stage.

France dominated early without really threatening, but South Africa’s opening goal still came out of the blue in the 20th.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris blundered as he missed Siphiwe Tshabalala’s corner and Khumalo leaped over Arsenal defender Abou Diaby, deflecting the ball over the line with his shoulder.

Mphela aimed inches left from outside the area five minutes later and the Europeans were down to 10 men another 60 ticks on when Colombian referee Oscar Ruiz gave a straight red card to Gourcuff for swinging his elbow into the face of MacBeth Sibaya as they both rose for a header.

Gourcuff left stoney-faced while Domenech buried his head in his hands, aware that his side was not one for a miracle.

Mphela tapped home against Clichy for 2-0 after France failed to clear a first cross as the vuvuzelas went into overdrive - even more as Uruguay had by then also taken the lead against Mexico.

The lively striker Mphela continued to torment the French defence after the break to get a vital third goal, denied by the right post after Tshabalala’s defence-splitter, forcing a super save from Lloris and then just wide from a tight right angle.

The hosts paid for these missed chances when Barcelona forward Thierry Henry finally came on for Cisse and together with Franck Ribery instilled some life into France.

Les Bleus then got their first goal of the tournament when Malouda, one of those punished by Domenech with an early place on the bench, tapped into the empty net after nice work from Ribery on the right side.

The stadium fell silent and all the faintest hopes died when Tshabalala, the man who had scored against Mexico in the tournament opener June 11, was denied in stoppage time.

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