South Africa got their World Cup qualifying campaign up and running with a controversial 2-1 win over Senegal in Polokwane.
The Group D match was heading towards a listless stalemate at half-time before referee Joseph Lamptey gave a penalty to the hosts for handball, even though replays showed the ball struck Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly on the thigh.
Thulani Hlatshwayo converted and a reeling Senegal were not allowed to recover as Thulani Serero added a second before the interval.
Substitute Cheikh N’Doye scrambled a goal back but South Africa move ahead of their Group B rivals on to four points from two matches, while Lamptey left the field with a substantial security presence.
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane flashed a header over from a ninth-minute free-kick but chances were largely hard to come by during the opening stages, with both teams pedestrian in their build-up.
Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo handled a sweetly struck Keagan Dolly effort in assured fashion but he found himself facing a penalty after widespread confusion.
No South Africa players appealed when Koulibaly got in the way of Eleazar Rodgers’ header and lengthy protests followed before Diallo got a touch to Hlatshwayo’s spot-kick but could not keep it out of the bottom corner.
The complaints from the Senegal players were still going on after a wonderfully worked South Africa second – Serero wrong-footing Diallo with a clever first-time finish into the bottom corner when Mpho Makola touched Dolly’s low cross into his path.
Senegal should have reduced the deficit 11 minutes into the second half but Moussa Konate steered his header wide from eight yards, while Dolly shot wide at the other end.
Stoke City striker Mame Biram Diouf headed wastefully wide before fellow substitute N’Doye bundled in with 15 minutes remaining.
South Africa were indebted to a superb save from Itumeleng Khune as Mane looked to turn home but they held on to ease the pressure on coach Shakes Mashaba.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!