Women's World Cup: Hermoso inspires Spain to comeback victory over South Africa

Spain came from behind to claim a 3-1 win over South Africa in its opening match of the Women's World Cup.

Spain's Jennifer Hermoso (second from right) starred with a brace as her side claimed a 3-1 win over South Africa in the Women's World Cup 2019 on Saturday.   -  AP

Jennifer Hermoso scored two second-half penalties as Spain came from behind to beat Women's World Cup debutant South Africa 3-1 in Group B.

Spain failed to win a single game in its first appearance at a World Cup in 2015 but entered this tournament as one of the favourites thanks to an impressive qualification campaign in which Hermoso starred with seven goals.

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But Jorge Vilda's side looked to be heading towards a shock defeat thanks to Thembi Kgatlana's 25th-minute strike in Le Havre, only for Janine van Wyk's handball to hand Spain a reprieve - Hermoso taking full advantage from the spot.

The turnaround was completed in the 73rd minute when VAR was used to punish Nothando Vilakazi - who received a second yellow card - for a lunge on substitute Lucia Garcia, with Hermoso keeping her composure to secure a hard-fought win before Garcia added further gloss late on.

 

Spain was the only team to maintain a 100 per cent winning record through qualifying and was quick to stamp its quality on proceedings, though South Africa's confidence soon grew.

And, after Vilakazi saw goal-bound set-piece deflected wide, South Africa went ahead when Kgatlana looped a delicate finish over Sandra Panos, who should have done better.

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Hermoso tried her luck with a hooked effort shortly after the restart, Andile Dlamini doing brilliantly to make a save onto the crossbar at full stretch, before Kgatlana sent a tame effort at Panos at the other end.

And that miss proved costly in the 70th minute, Hermoso tucking home from 12 yards after her strike hit the upraised arm of Van Wyk.

Virginia Torrecilla had a goal disallowed for offside as Spain stepped up the pressure, and it told when Vilakazi recklessly dived in on Garcia, with Hermoso stepping up to complete the comeback.

Spain was not done there, though, and Garcia capped her impressive cameo with a composed finish to move them top of Group B.

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