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World Cup Openers End In Draws

Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez fails to block the opening goal by South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala, second from left, during the World Cup opening match between South Africa and Mexico in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP)
Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez fails to block the opening goal by South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala, second from left, during the World Cup opening match between South Africa and Mexico in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP)

South Africa and France both missed late opportunities at victory Friday as the World Cup got under way with a pair of ties.

Rafael Marquez's score earned Mexico a 1-1 draw with host South Africa in the opening game after Siphiwe Tshabalala had given the host nation a dream start.

Tshabalala finished off a well-worked move in the 55th minute to set off wild celebrations at Soccer City.

But the South Africans left Mexico defender Marquez open in the 79th minute and he collected a left-wing cross to fire the tying goal.

The South Africans were close to scoring a winner in the 90th minute when Katlego Mphela got clear of two defenders but his shot hit the near post.

France and Uruguay failed to score in the other Group A game. Uruguay lost a player to a red card with time running out, but the French failed to capitalize on the man advantage, as one rush on goal was muffed and a late free kick from in front of the goal was blocked.

As pledged by coach Javier Aguirre, the Mexicans attacked in force from the kickoff and the hosts should have been a goal down within the first two minutes when goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune fumbled a low cross. Giovani dos Santos had a chance for an easy shot, but South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena blocked it.

The aggressive Mexicans continued to create chances but lacked accuracy and, when Carlos Vela put the ball in the net from a flicked-on corner, it was called offsides.

Forced to defend for most of the time, the South Africans posed few threats but nearly scored just before halftime. Siphiwe Tshabalala's cross from the left found Katlego Mphela unguarded in front of goal but he failed to reach it.

The chances gave the South Africans confidence and they went ahead in the 55th minute with a superb series of passes and accurate finishing shot. Teko Modise found Tshabalala clear of the Mexican defense, and the winger let fly with a powerful left-footed shot that flew past keeper Oscar Perez into the top far corner.

The Mexicans responded quickly and Dos Santos cut inside on the right for a left-footed drive that Khune pushed past the post.

They finally tied it when Andres Guardado floated in a cross from the left and Marquez was left completely free to control the ball and fire home from close range.

This program aired on June 11, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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