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Equatorial Guinea stuns Tunisia with late goal in Malabo, leaving Group B wide open heading into final day

The Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea pulled off a surprise victory in front of their home crowd in Malabo, defeating Tunisia with an 84th minute winner from Pablo Ganet to move level with the Carthage Eagles on ten points at the top of Group B in Saturday’s FIFA World Cup qualifying action. The goal was the first that Tunisia has allowed in the group stage, and now the North African side faces Zambia at home on the final day likely needing a win to advance as group winners. Equatorial Guinea will travel to last placed Mauritania hoping a win and slip up by Tunisia sends them through instead.

While it took a while for Equatorial Guinea to get their attack going, the hosts did well to contain Tunisia’s playmakers and attack. The visitors had the majority of opportunities in a first half that lacked much attacking play, but did not threaten the Equatoguinean defense too much. A 13th minute hopeful shot from Naïm Sliti was Tunisia’s first half chance before playmaker Wahbi Khazri embarked on a dribbling run and shot high and wide towards the end of the half.

Equatorial Guinea nearly scored on their first chance right before the end of the half, but a Ganet free kick from 21 yards out curled around the wall before just missing with Tunisia keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha clearly beaten. The hosts did well to keep the match close and always keep the possibility open of them finding a winner as the pressure increased.

As the match progressed after halftime, the attacking intent from both teams began to pick up. A deflected pass from midfielder found Sliti behind the Equatoguinean defense in the 56th minute, but the Saudi-based attacker sent his shot just wide. Equatorial Guinea playmaker Iban Edú was particularly dangerous and in the 72nd minute, the CF Fuenlabrada forward intercepted a Tunisian pass in midfield and accelerated into the penalty area before his shot was tipped over by Ben Mustapha.

The decisive moment came in the 83rd minute for the hosts, and Edú provided the crucial assist. On the left wing, substitute Luis Nlavo slipped a pass to Federico Bikoro, who sent in a lofted cross towards the far post. Edú did well to chest the service down and controlled the ball before nudging a pass into the middle, where Ganet was there to smash home a finish from ten yards out and send the home crowd into delirium.

Highlights of the match are in the link below. Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea both have ten points while Zambia are still in contention with seven, but Tunisia have a substantial edge in the goal differential tiebreaker if they end Tuesday tied on points with Equatorial Guinea.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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