Spain beats SAfrica 3-2 for 3rd at Confeds Cup

RUSTENBURG, South Africa: Xabi Alonso scored from a free kick in extra time Sunday to give Spain a 3-2 win over South Africa and third place at the Confederations Cup.

The Liverpool midfielder curled his shot through a crowd in the penalty area and inside the far post as the European champions rallied from their first loss in 35 games, a 2-0 defeat in the semifinals against the United States.

"It's a nice way to forget about the loss to the US," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. "The match was difficult for us. Our opponent created a lot of difficulties for us."

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South Africa's Katlego Mphela (L) scores against Spain during their Confederations Cup third place play-off soccer match at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 28, 2009.

South Africa substitute Katlego Mphela scored two goals, including an injury-time equalizer, to send the match into extra time after Dani Guiza had scored in the 88th and 89th minutes.

Khune was left flat-footed as Alonso's curling free kick from the left landed inside the far post as Spain rallied from the disappointment of seeing a record 15-game winning streak and 35-game unbeaten run snapped by the United States.

"It was a match of equals and the team could have won. Spain was lucky. It was a set piece," South Africa coach Joel Santana said. "Bafana Bafana played very good, gave two goals against Spain. They played very well against a team that is best in rankings."

With the weight of expectations lifted after having at least reached the semifinals - where it lost to Brazil 1-0 - Bafana Bafana played well and Mphela sent the match into extra time at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on the last play of injury time with a free kick from outside the area that sailed past goalkeeper Iker Casillas into the top of goal.

Mphele, who had played only 57 minutes in the tournament, first scored by breezing into the penalty area, controlling Siphiwe Tshabalala's cross with his right knee and shooting over Casillas with his left foot in the 73rd, nine minutes after replacing Steven Pienaar.

South Africa seemed poised to squeak out its second win of the tournament before Guiza chested down David Silva's long pass into the area and sent a low shot beyond Khune to start the rally. Moments later, Guiza lofted a chip from the right edge of the area that floated over Khune and bounced into the goal off the inside of the far post.

"He said he shot it but I'm not so sure," Alonso joked. "It was a key score."

Casillas saved a shot from Mphela, who had equalized with a free kick in the third minute of injury time, in the 98th and denied Bernard Parker soon after as Bafana Bafana finished the World Cup warm-up tournament with three straight losses.

"We gave our all. We made it very difficult for them but I'm very, very devastated," South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena said. "The boys deserve credit."

Del Bosque had fielded a near full-strength lineup with David Villa and Fernando Torres both looking to finish the World Cup warm-up tournament as top scorer although the pair finished with three goals apiece after both coming off in the 57th for Guiza and Silva.

"If you switch off against teams like this you get punished and that's what happened," Mokoena said. "With both goals we could have done better."