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FIFA WC: Tunisia go out fighting with win over France

Last updated on: November 30, 2022 23:10 IST
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Nader Ghandri of Tunisia scoring a goal which is later disallowed after a VAR review during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France

IMAGE: Tunisia's Nader Ghandri scoring a goal which was later disallowed after a VAR review during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Getty Images

An invigorated Tunisia claimed a famous victory over a French team made up mostly of backup players on Wednesday but their 1-0 win over the reigning champions was not enough for the North Africans to progress to the World Cup knockout stages.

Tunisia, who needed to beat the already-qualified France and hope for Denmark to avoid defeat against Australia in the other Group D game to advance, roared onto the pitch to challenge a disjointed French side featuring nine changes from the side that beat the Danes.

But their win against the 2018 World Cup winners failed to see them through to the next stage after Australia defeated Denmark 1-0 and clinched second place in Group D. Tunisia thus keep their unwanted record of not progressing from the group stage in six World Cup appearances.

 

French-born Wahbi Khazri lifted Tunisia to their third win in 18 matches at the finals, dribbling into the box in the 58th minute and slipping the ball past back-up goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who at 37 is the oldest Frenchman to play in a World Cup match. Tunisia's win also ended France's six-match winning streak at the World Cup.

Tunisia's Mohamed Ben Romdhane is challenged by Axel Disasi and Raphael Varane of France

IMAGE: Tunisia's Mohamed Ben Romdhane is challenged by Axel Disasi and Raphael Varane of France. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Tunisia also threatened early on, with Nader Ghandri flicking the ball into the net off a free kick but the play was ruled offside.

Hostility from the stands was palpable from the start, with a portion of Tunisian supporters at Education City whistling at the French national anthem as it was played before kickoff. The same had happened at an emotionally-charged 2008 friendly in Paris between France and its former colony.

In a tactic designed to rest his stars for the Round of 16, French manager Didier Deschamps gave players who generally see very little of the pitch a taste of the action. But France's bench showed little cohesion and their back line was consistently pushed back and split wide open by a Tunisian side desperate to score.

Eduardo Camavinga of France controls the ball against Anis Ben Slimane of Tunisia

IMAGE: France's Eduardo Camavinga controls the ball against Tunisia's Anis Ben Slimane. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

A pitch invader runs on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France

IMAGE: A pitch invader runs on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

The Tunisian captain's goal mobilised the French into action, with Deschamps bringing in stars like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to jump-start an attack that had so far been tepid.

Mbappe and Griezmann energised the French, who were aided by Tunisia sitting back in the hope of preserving their win. On the Tunisian bench, substitutes and staff had their eyes glued on the other decisive group stage game in the dying minutes of their own match.

Hoping to spare themselves the embarrassment of a loss, France pressed on but a stoppage-time goal by Griezmann was disallowed over an offside.

France now take on the runners-up in Group C, which will be concluded later on Wednesday.

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri in action with France's Eduardo Camavinga

IMAGE: Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri in action with France's Eduardo Camavinga. Photograph: Marko Djurica/Reuters

Tunisia's Issam Jebali celebrates after the 1-0 win as France's Adrien Rabiot reacts.

IMAGE: Tunisia's Issam Jebali celebrates after the 1-0 win as France's Adrien Rabiot reacts. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
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Source: REUTERS
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