PRETORIA, June 17 (DPA): Diego Forlan scored twice in Uruguay's 3-0 victory over South Africa in Group A Wednesday in Pretoria.
With 42,858 expectant fans inside the Loftus Versfeld stadium the hosts went behind to a first-half Forlan strike and he made it two with a second half penalty conceded by keeper Itumeleng Khune who had brought down Luis Suarez and was sent off.
Alvaro Pereira headed in the third in added time to edge the hosts closer to an early World Cup exit and all Group A eyes will now focus on France's game against Mexico in Polokwane Thursday.
South Africa had not lost in 13 games and Carlos Alberto Parreira made one change from the side that drew with Mexico as left-back Tsepo Masilela came in for Lucas Thwala.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez threw caution to the wind by picking Edinson Cavani to join Luis Suarez in attack leaving Diego Forlan to operate just behind the front two.
Suarez combined early on with Forlan and then shot wide as Uruguay made a bright start but South Africa soon got into their stride with Siphiwe Tshabalala shooting from distance.
Tshabalala went through again on 17 minutes but with Steven Pienaar screaming for a pass to his left the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder went for goal and blasted over.
South Africa paid for that miss seven minutes later when Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area he thumped a shot that caught Aaron Mokoena's shoulder as it flew past Khune in the host's goal.
Tabarez's decision to play Forlan behind Cavani and Suarez had paid off and Ajax striker Suarez was also enjoying himself in Uruguay's front three, causing problems for Bongani Khumalo down the left-hand side of South Africa's defence.
Katlego Mphela rose well to head a cross wide just five minutes before half-time in a rare South African attack but with Forlan and Suarez looking a class above everybody else the hosts seemed to have run out of ideas.
Things got worse two minutes before the break when Swiss referee Massimo Busacca booked Kagisho Dikgacoi ruling him out of South Africa's vital final group game against France June 22 in Bloemfontein.
Suarez continued to threaten in the second period despite being hit in the mouth by Mokoena and going off for attention. No sooner was he back on the pitch when he went down under a challenge from Bongani Khumalo but the referee waved away claims for a penalty.
Bafana Bafana coach Parreira tried to bring his side back into the game on 57 minutes with defensive midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane making way for forward Surprise Moriri.
They might easily have gone down to ten men when Dikgacoi was lucky not to be shown a second yellow card for clattering into Jorge Fucile only for the referee to wave play on.
And buoyed by the good fortune they so nearly drew level. Pienaar crossed from the right but although Mphela got to the ball before Muslera in the Uruguay goal he steered his header just wide.
But South Africa's fate was sealed on 80 minutes when Forlan scored his second from the spot. Khune brought down Suarez and after pointing to the spot the referee sent the South African keeper off.
Four minutes passed before substitute goalkeeper Moneeb Josephs could strip off and take his place in goal and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Forlan blasted his spot-kick into the roof of the net.
Pienaar had been sacrificed to make way for Josephs and South Africa now carried little threat on the pitch with many of their fans beggining to stream away from the stadium.
Uruguay added a third five minutes into added time when Pereira nodded in from close range leaving Uruguay top of the group and South Africa needing a win against France in their last match.
Captain Mokoena said: "Uruguay played very well. They did not let us get into the game. We will have to see how Mexico's game with France goes. We still have a chance."
Man of the Match Forlan said the victory was important for Uruguay. "It was a solid performance. The team played well. It is getting better and the victory will help us."