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Tunisia hold Saudi Arabia with late goal

June 15, 2006 00:52 IST

A stoppage time header from Radhi Jaidi earned Tunisia a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia after a thrilling finish to their World Cup Group H opener on Wednesday.

Saudi substitute Sami Al Jaber scored in the 84th minute to put his team 2-1 ahead and seemingly on their way to a comeback win in the all-Arab clash.

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Al Jaber, who has played for the Saudis in three previous World Cups, tucked the ball home just two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

The Tunisians, seeking to win a World Cup game for the first time since they beat Mexico in their first appearance in 1978, led at halftime thanks to a Ziad Jaziri strike after 23 minutes.

But after dominating the opening period, they lost their way and Saudi Arabia came back strongly in the second half, Yasser Al Qahtan levelling in the 57th minute.

Tunisia had dominated from the start and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after only two minutes and almost scored after eight minutes.

The Saudis produced a few counter-attacks and forced a flurry of corners, but they finally fell behind in the 23rd minute.

From an inswinging free-kick on the right, defender Tuker headed clear, but the ball rebounded off his team-mate Hamad Al Montashari and, as the ball fell in space, Jaziri volleyed it beyond keeper Mabrouk Zaid from 10 metres.

Tunisia lost their sense of urgency after the break and paid for it when a revitalised Saudia Arabia levelled.

A long ball from defence set Mohamed Noor free on the right and from his low cross to the near post Yasser Al Qahtani evaded two marking defenders to steer the ball home.

Timothy Collings
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