Tunisia crashed out of the World Cup in style having defeated the reigning champions France 1-0 in their final group D match.
Experts applaud the Carthage Eagles for their final performance that had potential to send them flying into the round of 16 if Australia had not secured an additional three points after defeating Denmark 1-0 in their final group match Wednesday.
Jalel Kadri, Tunisia’s head coach, praised the bittersweet victory.
“It’s a historic win for us over the defending champions, but we wanted to qualify for the next round,” Kadri told reporters after the match.
“Unfortunately, we exited the tournament, but we also left the game with a lot of honor and pride,” added Kadri.
France’s Les Bleus fielded a weaker side against the North Africans, which witnessed star players Kylian Mbappé coming off the bench in the dying minutes of the game and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris sitting the fixture out.
Despite fielding a weaker side and losing to Tunisia, the French managed to garner a majority 44% ball possession and four shots on target.
The Carthage Eagles found themselves down ball possession but threatened more at goal in the first half after securing two shots on target and almost scored the opening goal in the eighth minute after midfielder Nader Ghandri volleyed the ball past French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and into the back of the net.
Ghandri’s eighth minute attempt at goal was disallowed by the referee who ruled that the 27-year-old midfielder was offside.
The game changed for Tunisia after forward Wahbi Khazri gave the Tunisians hope that they may be advancing to the round of 16, after he scored in the 58th minute by putting the ball into the far corner and past Mandanda, making the score line 1-0.
The score line almost changed in the final minutes after Les Bleus substitute Antoine Griezmann smashed a loose ball past Aymen Dahmen of the North Africans and into the back of the net, but the referee found himself reversing yet another goal after using the Video Assistant Referee, thereby keeping the score line 1-0.
Didier Deschamps, France’s head coach, said he fielded a weaker side because he wanted to rest his starting players who will be back on the pitch in the round of 16.
“These are my choices and I stand by them,” said Deschamps speaking at a postgame press conference, adding, “regardless of the result, we would have to play in four days.”
France will play against Poland in the round of 16 on Dec. 4.