Bernard Parker’s second half goal was enough to give South Africa a deserved 1-0 win over Spain this evening.
La Roja made a host of changes from the side that beat Equatorial Guinea on Saturday, as they prepared to face Bafana Bafana.
Vicente del Bosque’s men returned to Johannesburg for the first time since they won the 2010 World Cup. And they did so with Iker Casillas back in goal in place of Pepe Reina, as Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa and Nacho Monreal all come in at the back.
Xabi Alonso meanwhile, kept his place in the XI, whilst Fernando Llorente and David Villa started up front.
And, as expected, it was the visitors who got off to the brighter start – putting the ball in the back of the net within three minutes. Villa however, was adjudged to be offside from Andres Iniesta’s pass.
Just two minutes later, and the same happened again, with the Atletico Madrid man slotting in from Alonso’s through ball – the linesman had his flag lofted high though.
The home team’s relentless pressure was proving to be an annoyance for La Roja, but their high defence line was leaving them woefully exposed. Something that almost cost them on 15 minutes, but Iniesta’s 20 yard shot flew wide.
The hosts high-intensity game though, nearly paid dividends for them midway through the half, but Oupa Manyisa’s shot took a deflection off of Sergio Ramos and rattled against the bar.
Bernard Parker went close again for the Africans soon after, but it was the world champions who went closest to opening the score on the half hour mark, only for Llorente’s header to miss the target.
As the half wore on, South Africa looked more comfortable defensively, and dropped a little deeper, forcing the Spanish to play keep ball around the centre circle, not the opposition box.
After the break, Gordon Igesund’s men continued where they left off, and kept on frustrating the Spanish. And they almost went ahead on 50 minutes, but Tokelo Rantie’s effort went wide.
But their pressure eventually told on 56 minutes when Parker played a one-two on the edge of the area before finishing coolly past Victor Valdes.
A host of changes on the hour mark disjointed the rhythm of the match somewhat, with the hosts now happy to sit back and frustrated the Roja – something they were doing with aplomb.
Alvaro Negredo came on and forced a good stop from Khume, but Del Bosque’s boys looked lethargic and disinterested after a tough international schedule.
That misery was compounded late on as Valdes went down injured with a calf injury, but with Spain having made all their allotted substitutions, it looked like Alvaro Arbeloa was about to goal in goal. The South Africans however, took up the friendly game spirit, and allowed the world champions to bring on Pepe Reina instead.
The Napoli man was then called into action in the 85th minute, making a great save from Rantie’s shot, in what was the last meaningful effort of a drab game.
South Africa 1-0 Spain
Scorers: Parker 56 (SA)
South Africa: Khune, Ngconga, Khumalo (Xulu 45), Nthete, Matlaba, Furman, Jali, Manyisa (Zungu 63), Claasen (Tshabalala 45), Parker, Rantie
Spain: Casillas (Valdes 45, Reina 78), Arbeloa, Albiol, Ramos, Monreal, Busquets, Alonso (Mata 59), Iniesta (Koke 71), Pedro (Navas 59), Llorente (Cazorla 45), Villa (Negredo 57)