Khazri lifts Tunisia over Panama to end World Cup drought

29 June, 2018, 18:27 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • England's Kyle Walker is playing in an unfamiliar back three. Tim Goode  PA Wire

Panama had taken the lead in the 33rd minute through an own-goal when Jose Luis Rodriguez's hard shot deflected off of a Tunisia player that sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Tunisia took the lead in the 66th minute when Oussama Haddadi and Anice Badri played a give-and-go on the left side of the area, and when Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo came off his line, Haddadi fed it to Wahbi Kazhri to tap into the open goal. Tunisia hadn't won a World Cup game since a 3-1 victory over Mexico in 1978.

Having failed to finish off several chances in the first half, Tunisia took six minutes to assert themselves after the restart.

Tunisia's first and second choice keepers are unavailable after picking up injuries at the tournament and they flew Moez Ben Cherifia from champions Esperance to Moscow on Wednesday in the hope he might be allowed to be included in the squad.

Wahbi Khazri was the star of the show and assisted one goal before netting the victor, with a Yassine Meriah own-goal having given Panama a surprise lead at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk.

Tunisia will conclude their Group G campaign against Panama on Thursday, in what is just a bid to salvage some World Cup pride.

Playing out the dead rubber in Saransk, it was a slick passing move that concluded with Khazri, the Sunderland forward, sliding a ideal pass across the face of goal for Ben Youssef to lift into the net from close range.

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Wahbi Kazra (Tunisia) - Panama couldn't deal with the Sunderland forward's movement in the final-third, as he claimed an assist and a goal.

Both teams will head home after exiting the World Cup, with Tunisia ending third in Group G while Panama finish in fourth as only the second team to fail in clinching a point at this World Cup (Egypt were the other in Group A).

Maaloul praised his team's fight in their first match with England, where Tunisia defended heroically before being undone by a late Harry Kane strike, but conceded that their performance against Belgium was considerably poorer.

"We should have been more defensive against Belgium".

He said: "We are last, yes. but the worst team?"

Instead, they wound up just about edging a team whose joint-top scorer at this World Cup is "own-goal".

"Perhaps in the second match we should have been better", the coach said.

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