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Tunisia scrape late draw with Saudis

Defender Radhi Jaidi headed an injury-time equaliser on Wednesday as Tunisia scrambled a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 01:02 IST

Defender Radhi Jaidi headed an injury-time equaliser on Wednesday as Tunisia scrambled a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia which left both teams waiting for an elusive World Cup win.

After a defensive mix-up, forward Zied Jaziri put a high ball into the six-yard box which Jaidi nodded home.

It was relief for Tunisia, who had led for nearly an hour before Saudi Arabia equalised and then went ahead through veteran striker Sami al-Jaber in the 84th minute.

Tunisia have not won a World Cup finals match since their debut in 1978, and Saudi Arabia have not won since their debut in USA 1994.

"We should have been calmer to make sure of victory," said Saudi coach Marcos Paqueta. "We lost two points."

"We showed two faces in this match. At first, we were nervous, we were scared of Tunisia.

"But at half-time I told them to attack down the wings. I was happy with the result."

The North Africans led after a dour first half, but the game came alive on 57 minutes when Saudi Arabia equalised with the move of the match.

Defender Ahmed Dokhi played a peach of a ball down the right channel for Mohammed Noor, whose early cross fell perfectly for Yasser al-Qahtani who scampered clear of two defenders and buried it first time.

Saudi Arabia made changes as they pressed for a win, with midfielder Nawaf al-Temyat coming off for forward Malek al-Hawsawi, Noor making way for Mohammed Ameen and Qahtani being replaced by Jaber.

And Jaber, who has now played in four World Cups, made an immediate impact as he was put clear by Hawsawi, calmly sliding a left-footed finish past Tunisia 'keeper Ali Boumnijel -- a fellow veteran and the tournament's oldest player at 40 years and 62 days.

However, the Saudis were not able to hold on to their lead and Jaidi equalised in the second minute of injury time.

The North Africans had gone ahead in the 23rd minute after captain Riadh Bouazizi was fouled in front of the Saudi box.

Saudi defender Redha Tukar headed on the resulting free-kick Jaziri on hand to ram the loose ball home with an acrobatic volley.

Tunisia were worth their lead with clear-cut chances few and far between for the Saudis, despite winning a number of corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions.

Tukar curled one free-kick over the wall but it was a simple stop for Boumnijel, and Saudi forward Qahtani could also have done better with a high ball which he headed wide.

Saudi Arabia also survived an early penalty appeal when Jaziri went down under a challenge by Tukar.

The regional rivals are bracketed in a tough Group H along with Spain and Ukraine. Earlier, Spain beat Ukraine 4-0 in Leipzig.

First Published: Jun 15, 2006 01:02 IST