Soccer  > World Cup  > Mexico rallies for 1-1 draw in World Cup opener
June 11, 2010, 02:27 PM
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Rafael Marquez scored with 11 minutes remaining and rallied Mexico to a 1-1 draw with South Africa on Friday in the opening game of the World Cup.

The result dampened the mood of the capacity crowd of 94,000-plus at Soccer City stadium, but preserved the unbeaten streak of World Cup hosts in their tournament opener.

Marquez settled a cross from second-half substitute Andres Guardado that cleared the head of South African defender Aaron Mokeona at the right post and beat goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune from close range.

Mexico's goal was a reward for El Tri, which dominated the first half and had the better of play overall throughout the match. Mexico survived a shot by Katlego Mphela that hit the base of the left post in the final minute.

The match was officially opened with a greeting by South African President Jacob Zuma before a boisterous crowd, which included Bishop Desmond Tutu. Ninety-one-year-old former president Nelson Mandela was not in attendance, mourning the death of his 13-year-old great granddaughter, who was killed the day before in a one-car automobile accident after returning from the official World Cup concert.

South Africa led in the 55th minute when Siphiwe Tshabalala, who plays for local side Kaizer Chiefs, ran onto a through ball out of the ball down the left side, settled with one touch into the penalty area and beat Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez with left-footed drive into the far-side netting.

The goal ignited the crowd who had been incessant with their plastic vuvuzela horns.

It came after South Africa, which struggled during the first half, started the second half more promisingly.

Mexico next faces France on Thursday before finishing its Group A schedule against Uruguay on June 22.

Mexico had by far the better of play in the first half, dominating possession, chances and having a goal voided by Carlos Vela voided by offside in the 38th minute.

El Tri started early, creating its first chance in the second minute when Paul Aguilar's cross was punched by Khune into the path of Giovani dos Santos, who had his follow-up shot blocked.

Khune's best effort in the first half came in the 32nd, denying Guillermo Franco from two meters after he settled a ball sent deep into the area by Vela.

South Africa had few promising moments in the opening 45 minutes, but its best came just before halftime when Tshabalala's cross was just out of the reach of Mphela, and a header wide a minute later by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

South Africa extended its unbeaten streak to 13 matches and preserved that of World Cup hosts to 20 with the fifth draw by the home team in its first game.

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