A last-minute penalty by Quinton Fortune earned South Africa a 2-2 draw with Paraguay after coming back from 0-2 down in their opening World Cup group B match on Sunday.
A flying header by striker Roque Santa Cruz and a fiercely-struck free kick by Francisco Arce looked to have earned Paraguay a deserving victory.
But an own goal by Estanislao Struway gave South Africa hope and after Ricardo Tavarelli brought down Sibusio Zuma, Fortune held his nerve to convert the penalty, the first of the tournament.
Santa Cruz, who was a constant danger throughout the game, headed a tempting Arce free kick into an empty net in the 39th minute after South Africa goalkeeper Andre Arendse had come for the ball and missed it.
Arce grabbed the second 10 minutes after the break with a clever free kick that surprised Arendse at his near post and flew into the top corner.
Paraguay, who beat Brazil and drew twice with Argentina in qualifying, showed their attacking intent right from the start as the 20-year-old Santa Cruz had a penalty claim turned down after just 25 seconds.
With full back Arce overlapping on the right and Jorge Campos providing a series of accurate crosses from the left, the Bayern Munich striker was a real handful for the South African defence.
Arendse tipped over a stinging Arce free kick after 10 minutes and made two more good stops from Santa Cruz headers.
South Africa looked unsettled throughout the first half and though they perked up after the break, they were caught cold by Arce in the 55th minute.
The dead ball specialist stood over a free kick 25 metres out to the left of the box, but with everyone lined up at the far post expecting the cross he instead whipped in a fierce shot that flew past Arendse at the near post.
South Africa pulled one back in the 63rd minute when Estanislao Struway deflected a Teboho Mokoena shot past goalkeeper Ricardo Tavarelli, playing in place of the suspended Jose Luis Chilavert.
Eight players were booked in the match.
Spain play Slovenia in the second group B match later on Sunday.