An own goal from Italy allowed South Africa to tie its Women’s World Cup match in the 32nd minute and build momentum to deliver one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far.
After Arianna Caruso scored on a penalty in the 11th minute, Benedetta Orsi was credited with the mistake goal nearly 20 minutes later. The two squads went back and forth in the second half. Hildah Magaia put South Africa up in the 67th, but Caruso nailed the equalizer in the 74th.
Thembi Kgatlana then broke the hearts of the Italians with a strike in the second minute of extra time. South Africa celebrated as they moved onto the knockout stage for the first time. It was also the squad’s first Women’s World Cup win in its history after coming up with a doughnut in 2019.
South Africa came into the tournament ranked No. 54 in the last FIFA rankings before the tournament. Italy was 16th and appeared to be heading to the knockout stage before Wednesday’s debacle. South Africa drew with Argentina in its last match after it had lost to Sweden, 2-1.
Before the tournament began, South Africa was locked in a pay dispute with its national federation. On the eve of the tournament, they received an assurance they will receive the $30,000 FIFA has promised every player at the tournament.
Sweden won the group with a victory over Argentina in the other Group G match going on. Sweden will play the U.S. in the knockout stage.
South Africa will play the Netherlands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.