South Africa's midfielder Sibulele Holweni (L) celebrates with teammates their win at the end of the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup Group G football match between South Africa and Italy at Wellington Stadium in Wellington on August 2, 2023. Photo: AFP
Captain Thembi Kgatlana scored the winner in the 92nd minute to make history for South Africa and set up a meeting with the Netherlands -- and send Italy home.
Arianna Caruso scored twice for Italy and thought she had salvaged the draw they needed to go through with 16 minutes left, before Kgatlana's stunning late intervention.
The Italians were in tears at the end as their opponents celebrated a famous win.
Caruso scored an 11th-minute penalty to put Italy on the way but they conceded an equaliser in farcical circumstances on 32 minutes.
Italy defender Benedetta Orsi received the ball and, without looking up to see where Francesca Durante was, pinged the ball back to her goalkeeper.
But Durante was nowhere near where the backpass went and the ball ended up in the Italian net for a glaring own goal.
Italy hit the post in a goalmouth scramble just moments later but there was little to choose between them at the break in a wet Wellington.
The African champions knew they needed to score and they went on the attack in the second half.
South Africa duly took the lead on 67 minutes when skipper Kgatlana played in Hildah Magaia and she swept the ball into the net.
South Africa very nearly got a third but Durante made a stunning save and minutes later came what looked like the defining moment of the match.
Italy drew level through Caruso for her second and, after an agonisingly long VAR review, the goal was given for 2-2.
But the Italian defence went missing again in the second minute of injury time at the end of the game and Kgatlana slotted in to send South Africa through.
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