Uruguay produced an assured performance to beat hosts South Africa in Pretoria and take control of Group A.
The South Americans were much more forward-thinking than during their nervous opening match with France five days ago providing a constant threat to Bafana Bafana's goal while also nullifying the meek attacking threat provided by their overwhelmed opponents.
Diego Forlan capped an impressive performance with two goals - the first a 30-yard deflected strike, the second a well-taken penalty after Luis Suarez had been fouled by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, for which he was red carded - and Alvaro Pereira added a late third.
The victory not only advances Uruguay to four points and to top of the table ahead of their final group game with Mexico, but gives them their first World Cup finals victory since a group stage win over South Korea at Italia 90.
In contrast, this defeat is South Africa's first in 14 matches and leaves them facing an uphill task to secure a place in the last 16.
Prior to the game, both coaches had promised more positive approaches from their sides following conservative showings in their opening games, which yielded them a point a piece, and so it proved in an entertaining match that not only improved on what Group A had offered, but what the tournament on the whole has provided thus far.
Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira kept essentially the same side - Tsepo Masilela replaced Lucas Thwala at left-back - and the same shape from the 1-1 draw with Mexico. Their performance was more in keeping with their passionate second-half display at Soccer City rather than their nervous first 45 minutes, but they were unable to pose enough of a threat to trouble their superior opponents.
Having navigated a tricky opening game against France relatively unscathed and knowing here lay their chance to seize control of Group A, Uruguay opted for a three man strike force, bringing in Edinson Cavani to partner Suarez, with Atletico Madrid's Forlan playing in a withdrawn attacking role.
The former Manchester United striker was the difference - dropping deep to collect possession and influence his side's attacks and providing the moment of individual brilliance that gave Uruguay the lead midway through the first half via a 30-yard dipping shot that found the net via a glancing deflection off Aaron Mokoena.
He also demonstrated an immense level of composure to emphatically hammer his penalty into the roof of the net following a considerable wait while the hosts replaced Khune with substitute keeper Moneeb Josephs.
The 75th-minute penalty prompted a silent, defeated exodus from the stands and when Forlan floated an exquisite pass to Suarez who then crossed for Alvaro Perreira to head home Uruguay's third deep into injury time the stadium was only half full.
For all their disappointment, the partisan home support can have no complaints as Oscar Tabarez's side were dominant. They set out their stall in an opening 10 minutes that saw them create more chances than in the whole of the 90 against the French, with Suarez's shot from a tight angle that flew wide the best of them.
Suarez, who is so prolific in front of goal for club side Ajax, was to squander further chances: hitting the side-netting from a tight angle from 10 yards and also firing straight at keeper Khune from a promising position 20 yards out.
His strike partner Edison Cavani also missed two good opportunities and captain Diego Lugano fluffed a header from a Forlan free-kick early in the second half.
South Africa's chances were significantly fewer but their wastefulness mirrored the worst of their opponents' attempts.
Siphiwe Tshabalala - brim full of confidence after his superb opening goal against the Mexicans - had two good shooting chances in the opening quarter but the first he fired over from 25 yards and the second he badly misjudged with an attempted chip when Steven Pienaar was perhaps better placed to receive a pass.
Katlego Mphela, who was denied giving his side a win against Mexico by a post late on - missed the target with a close range header in each half.
South Africa now face a final group game against France without suspended keeper Khune, midfielder Dikgachoi, who picked up a second yellow of the tournament, and with only slim hopes of qualifying.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
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