Two goals in added time gave United Arab Emirates an unlikely draw after South Africa had taken a two-goal lead in the Group F match in Alexandria.
Although South Africa had most of the possession and a greater number of attempts on target during the first half, it was UAE who were guilty of missing the best opportunities. Midway through the first half, Ahmed Khalil played in a fantastic ball for Ali Mabkhoot, but the Al Jazira forward dragged his shot just wide.
Minutes later, Theyab Awana ran down the right wing and squared the ball for Ahmed Khalil - and this time it was the Al Ain man who was guilty of missing the opportunity, ballooning over the bar with the goal at his mercy. It was a huge let off for the South Africans, who almost made UAE suffer through their lively striker Kermit Erasmus. The Rotterdam-based striker had two good attempts on target from the edge of the box, but found Yousif Abdulrahman equal to them on both occasions.
Yet, nine minutes after the interval, Eramus scored the opening goal. Receiving the ball from substitute George Maluleka from the right, he took one touch before firing past the goalkeeper with his right foot. UAE's response was almost instant when Khalil found himself with just the keeper to beat, but Darren Peet stood up to the striker and deflected his shot wide for a corner with his right foot.
South Africa doubled their advantage in their 72nd minute when Thulani Serero embarked on a surging run through the centre before picking out Malukela with a pass. The Malukela-Erasmus combination worked again as the former's low cross from the right was turned in from 12 yards by the in-form striker. However, he was taken off with 13 minutes remaining after suffering a facial injury.
But then the drama began. It all started when Ramahlwe Mphahlele saw red in the 82nd minute following a tussle with Ahmed Ali, giving UAE a numerical advantage. It looked as though Hamdan Al Kamali's penalty would be little more than a consolation, but Ahmed Ali's left-wing cross was met by Theyab Awana to give them a share of the spoils.