Tunisia win the France battle but fail to advance

Published on Nov 30, 2022 11:20 PM IST

A spirited performance saw them win their first match against European opposition at the World Cup but it wasn't enough.

Tunisia's players reacts as Referee Matthew Conger, of New Zealand, signals the use of VAR during the World Cup group D match(AP)
Tunisia's players reacts as Referee Matthew Conger, of New Zealand, signals the use of VAR during the World Cup group D match(AP)
By, New Delhi

For roughly two minutes, Tunisia thought they had sealed their place in the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday. Wahbi Khazri, the Tunisian No 10, got the ball after Youssouf Fofana lost it in the midfield. He was about 30 yards from goal, and he launched a run, dribbling into the box before slipping the ball past France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in the 58th minute.

A win would have put Tunisia into the knockout round provided Australia didn't win their game against Denmark. And at that moment, with Australia and Denmark locked 0-0, that is exactly how things were. But even before the African nation could settle, Australia scored scored through a Mathew Leckie solo in the 60th minute.

The balance was altered and try as they might, Tunisia were unable to restore it. They ran forward with all their heart and battled hard but regardless of what they did, their future was in Denmark's hands and the Scandinavian country was unable to find an equaliser.

As the match came to a close, Tunisia's fans were glued to their phones. Their team had done the business on the field but so had Australia in the other match.

And then in the dying seconds, even as news of Australia's win over Denmark trickled in, Antoine Griezmann (who came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute) seemed to have equalised for France with the last kick of the match. But even as the players were walking off, there was a dramatic VAR intervention.

The referee had a look and the France goal was overruled. Fans cheered wildly as Tunisia secured a famous win against the world champions and only their third win at the World Cup finals. The battle, as they say, was won but the war was lost.

France will face the runners-up of Group C (Argentina, Poland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia) while Australia will run into the winners.

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