Bafana ease past Paraguay

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Surprise Moriri, Benni McCarthy and Siphiwe Tshabalala scored for the hosts. McCarthy’s goal also sees him becoming South Africa’s all-time leading scorer with 30 goals.

Also, skipper Aaron Mokoena equals Shaun Bartlett’s record of 74 caps for Bafana Bafana.

Carlos Alberto Parreira’s men made their intentions clear from the start with Teko Modise hitting the crossbar in the sixth minute.

Modise also had a penalty appeal turned down in the eighth minute when his shot was handled inside the area by an opposing defender.

An unmarked McCarthy should have put Bafana ahead in the 16th minute when he sent his shot over the bar following a good cross by Moon.

Paraguay were dealt a massive blow in the 23rd minute when star striker Roque Santa Cruz was forced to leave the field after sustaining an injury following a tackle by Blackburn Rovers teammate Aaron Mokoena.

The visitors’ only threat in the first half came via the boot of Nelson Valdes in the 25th minute, but his long range effort was superbly tipped around the post by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

Bafana Bafana deservedly took the lead in the 31st minute when Moriri volleyed home after superbly controlling Masilela’s cross on his chest.

Tshabalala almost doubled their lead two minutes before the break when he latched onto McCarthy’s pass, but the winger sent his effort wide.

The score remained 1-0 at the break.

However, the hosts extended their lead two minutes after the restart when McCarthy headed home a cross by Moriri, who had done superb work down the left flank.

Tshabalala made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute with a superb lob over the visiting keeper after playing a neat one-two with McCarthy.

Paraguay went close to reducing the deficit in the 76th minute, but Oscar Cardozo sent his free-kick narrowly wide of goal, with Khune well beaten.

The final minutes saw the visitors the more attacking of the two sides. But the hosts held out for a superb win, in which they arguably produced their best performance under Parreira.

The starting line-ups were as follows:

South Africa: Khune; Moon, Mokoena, Morris, Masilela; Davids (Mbuyane 68'), Dikgacoi, Modise, Tshabalala (Parker 81'); Moriri (Walaza 69'), McCarthy (Fanteni 76')

Paraguay: Villar; Bonet (Caniza 66'), Manzur, Morel, Toledo (Roman 44'); Barreto, Victor Caceres, Santana (Burgos 74'), Riveros (Achucarro 53'); Cruz (Cardozo 23'), Haedo (Luis Caseres 66')