South Africa leave a nation united and the French divided
For the hosts, some pride was salvaged. They exited the stage with a win over the French, and at one stage, the last 16 was even in sight for Bafana Bafana.
France by contrast waved au revoir in much the same manner as they have played throughout the tournament – shambolically. The opening goal from South Africa was down to an error from one of the few French players who wasn’t to blame for the mess of the first two matches. Hugo Lloris came and missed a corner from Siphiwe Tshabalala, and Bongani Khumalo punched the ball home.
Five minutes later, the French nightmare continued, when Yoan Gourcuff was dismissed for an elbow on MacBeth Sibaya, judged deliberate by Colombian official Oscar Ruiz.
More high farce in the French back line led to the second – this time Katlego Mphela turned into an empty net. With Mexico trailing in Rustenberg, the home fans were suddenly believing and the vuvuzelas were growing ever louder.
Malouda and the old warhorse himself, Thierry Henry, were soon sent on by Domenech, with Henry grabbing the armband off Alou Diarra in what many suspect will be his last ever international appearance. And it was Malouda who soon found the net after a sweeping move involving Sagna and Ribery.
The full time whistle signalled the end, both for the worst ever home nation campaign, and arguably, the worst ever World Cup campaign, full stop.
In ugly scenes at the final whistle, the French manager succeeded in reducing his dignity still further, by refusing to shake the hand of his opposite number.