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Tunisia secure bittersweet victory against sub-par France

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Tunisia added to the list of upsets at the 2022 FIFA World Cup by edging reigning champions France 1-0 in the final Group D encounter. Despite the brilliant hard-fought victory, the Eagles of Carthage depart Qatar following Australia’s 1-0 win over Denmark, albeit with their heads held high.

With nothing to lose ahead of a likely flight back home, Tunisia went all out against a second-string French side and thought they took the lead in under 10 minutes. However, Nader Ghandri’s exceptional first-touch volley that ended in the back of the net following an exceptional free-kick delivery was immediately flagged for a marginal offside.

Unable to get a hold of proceedings, France largely played second-fiddle to a hungry Tunisia, but came close to opening the deadlock themselves when Kingsley Coman sent his shot wide of the left post. That didn’t affect the Eagles of Carthage in the least, as they continued pounding Steve Mandanda’s goal with successive efforts, the best of which saw Wahbi Khazri force the veteran keeper into a save with a thunderous long-range volley. Having alternated between a win and loss in each of their last five World Cup games against African nations – beating Nigeria 2-0 last time around in 2014 – the omens looked in favour of Jalel Kadri’s men going into the second half.

With Australia and Denmark playing out a stalemate concurrently, Tunisia mustered hopes of potential qualification with a win over the reigning world champions despite lying bottom of the group. Eventually their efforts bore fruit in the 58th minute, as captain Khazri stepped up and weaved through the Les Bleus defence, before nicking the ball low into the bottom right corner to draw first blood.

Despite the introductions of Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé, Didier Deschamps’ men fell short of creative ideas in the final-third. Nonetheless, they raised the stakes in the final minutes seeking to impel Tunisia to their third straight winless match in the tournament. However, kudos to the Africans’ will to muster a positive result, they managed to end France’s six-match winning streak at the World Cup, as Les Bleus failed to match Italy’s record of seven wins in a row. With their fortunes relying elsewhere, Jalel Kadri’s outfit exit the World Cup having materialised one of the tournament’s most resolute performances, despite a controversial VAR intervention denying Griezmann a goal at the death..

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