Tunisia pulled off a stunning victory over FIFA World Cup™ holders France, but in the end it was not enough for them to qualify for the knockout stage.
Wahbi Khazri’s second-half strike sent the hordes of Tunisia fans packed into Education City Stadium into raptures and at that moment it was the Carthage Eagles who were going through to the last 16.
But just two minutes later on the other side of town Mathew Leckie gave Australia the lead against Demark at Al Janoub Stadium, lifting the Socceroos above Tunisia into second place in Group D and sending them through instead.
Antoine Griezmann looked to have denied Tunisia their historic, if futile, victory when he struck a volley in the 98th minute but after a lengthy VAR review the goal was ruled out, meaning Jalel Kadri’s side bowed out of the tournament on a high.
With France already secured of their place in the knockout phase and practically assured of top spot in the group after dominant wins over Australia and Denmark, coach Didier Deschamps opted to keep his first-choice players fit for the next game and give a chance to fringe players, making nine changes to his starting XI.
The new-look team did not immediately gel and it was Tunisia who took the game by the scruff of the neck. Nader Ghandri had the ball in the net early on when he connected with a Khazri free-kick but he was offside. Khazri then tested France’s stand-in goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a swerving strike from distance.
It was no great surprise when Khazri did open the scoring for Tunisia although the goal forced Deschamps to call on the cavalry. Kylian Mbappe, Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were among the players brought on but Tunisia stood firm, with the helping hand of VAR.
It was ultimately not enough and for the sixth time they are heading home after the group stage, but this time with their heads held high.
Discussion about this post