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Fans come alive as South Africa snatches a win

THE fans were singing, dancing and blowing on their vuvuzela trumpets on Wednesday after South Africa moved closer to joining Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals with its first win at the tournament.

The top-ranked Spaniards qualified for the next round by beating Iraq 1-0 for a record-leveling 14th straight win, but it was South Africa's 2-0 victory over New Zealand that created the kind of colorful and noisy atmosphere everyone is expecting to see at next year's World Cup.

Bernard Parker, the man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time in South Africa's opening match, scored a goal in each half to give Bafana Bafana four points in Group A.

"We pushed hard and got a bit of luck," Parker said.

Although the hosts face Spain in their final group match, the South Africans will likely advance to the semifinals as long as they avoid a heavy defeat. "The goals we had are not sufficient," South Africa coach Joel Santana said. "We have to keep both feet firmly on the floor."

Parker got the party started, redeeming himself for inadvertently blocking a goal-bound header with the back of his leg in the opening draw against Iraq. This time, he sent a shot into the net off New Zealand defender Andy Boyens in the 21st minute and then deflected in a cross from Tsepo Masilela in the 52nd.

Spain's win was its 14th straight in all competitions, matching the feat achieved by Brazil, France and Australia. Another win on Saturday against South Africa will break that record and equal Brazil's 35-match unbeaten run.

"We never feared for the victory," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

David Villa scored the lone goal for Spain, slipping between a pair of defenders scoring from Joan Capdevila's cross in the 55th minute.

Iraq has one point from its two matches and still has a chance to make the semifinals.

The Iraqis, coached by Serbian journeyman Bora Milutinovic, need to beat New Zealand on Saturday to have a chance.

"A football match is like life, you need a little bit of mathematics," Milutinovic said. "The first game you can't lose. The second you do the best you can."



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