An invigorated Tunisia claimed a famous victory over a French team made up mostly of backup players today 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 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.