A late strike from South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana stunned Italy and sent southern Africa country through to the 2023 Women’s World Cup knockout stage for the first time ever.
In the opening exchanges, Italy were comfortably the better side, as Arianna Caruso converted an early penalty and they bossed possession.
However, Benedetta Orsi’s shock own goal from 25 yards out changed things; South Africa were back in the game, and they returned after the half-time interval drastically improved, having been fairly scrappy in the first half.
The African champions piled on the pressure and got their reward with a 66th-minute goal from Hildah Magaia, who latched onto a clever through-ball from the bright, energetic Kgatlana. Italy equalised just minutes later, though, with Caruso helping in a flick-on from substitute Cristiana Girelli; and yet, they couldn’t hang on again.
Just as the European side looked like they were safely through to the knockouts, South Africa burst away, as Magaia turned creator and Kgatlana slotted home a close-range winner to make it 3-2 and spark wild scenes on the pitch and in the stands.
It’s arguably the shock of the World Cup so far. However, they’ll face a different calibre of opposition in the last 16, squaring up against 2019 World Cup finalists the Netherlands, who topped Group E. South Africa will be competing in the knockouts for the first time in their history, so they’ll be desperate to give the Banyana Banyana fans even more to shout about.