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Bafana just too good for La Roja

20 November 2013 4:58 AM
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BAFANA Bafana earned their most famous victory yet against European opposition by beating world and European champions Spain in an international friendly here last night.

Bernard Parker's 56th-minute strike stunned the world's No.1-ranked team for perhaps the biggest shock in world football this year.

"I'm the happiest man on earth after scoring against the world champions," said Parker after the match.

This was the performance that eclipsed taking the game to Brazil in a 1-0 defeat in Sao Paulo last year.

Bafana's skill and running in some sporadic but confident and dynamic attacks matched the soft-passing tiki-taka football of the somewhat flat, but also shell-shocked, world and European champions.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund gave a rare start to Andile Jali next to Dean Furman in central midfield.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque started with seven of the XI who took the field in the 1-0 World Cup final victory against Holland on July 11 2010 at this venue - Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Pedro and David Villa.

But the running of Tokelo Rantie, combativeness of Furman and skill of Jali, before he went off injured just after the break, notably troubled the Spaniards.

With all the criticism Igesund has at times received for his reluctance to inject youth, and sometimes saying the wrong things, the impressive football his team has displayed has been lost sight of. Surely now, some credit must be given too.

Last night might have been a friendly, but it was a shock result that would have been noticed around the world. Before it, Spain had lost once in 16 games this year - the 3-0 defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final - and won 12 times.

There were nervous moments for Bafana early on, though Spain appeared not quite to have brought their radar for beating offside, as they got it wrong on a few occasions in the first half. An excellent moment of skill led to a breakout from Jali that restored momentum to SA. Soon after, one of Rantie's troubling runs was spoilt when the striker failed to pass to Daylon Claasen.

In the 18th minute, Oupa Manyisa's shot took a big deflection and looped onto the crossbar. Another intricate move resulted in Parker being teed up to force a save from Casillas.

Alvaro Albaloa's cross saw Fernando Llorente sneak in ahead of Bongani Khumalo for a dangerously close header.

Before the break Khumalo's near-post header to Parker's corner hit the side-netting.

Substitute Siphiwe Tshabalala, on for Daylon Claasen, was able to slip Rantie through two minutes into the second half, with the Bournemouth striker blasting over.

Rantie was through one-on-one in the 85th but could not beat reserve keeper Victor Valdes. Spain also came close to scoring in the last minute of stoppage time but Khune stood firm.


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