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Dominant first half performance sees Tunisia defeat Zambia and advance in WCQ without trouble

Tunisia are through to the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying following their 3-1 home victory over Zambia on Tuesday. The Carthage Eagles left little doubt about who would advance out of Group B with three first half goals giving them an advantage that Zambia could not overcome. With the win, the result meant that Equatorial Guinea, who drew 1-1 at Mauritania, could not overtake the Tunisians for first place even if they had won.

After the Zambians held out for fifteen minutes, the hosts asserted themselves and began to pick apart the Chipolopolo defense. Playmaker Wahbi Khazri was instrumental and created the opening goal in the 18th minute when his free kick service from the right flank found Yassine Meriah at the far post, who headed the ball back across for Aissa Laïdouni to volley in from close range. Khazri had a chance to double the lead in the 28th minute after intercepting a backpass and getting taken down by Zambia keeper Toaster Nsabata in the box, but Nsabata denied Khazri’s penalty kick.

The hosts doubled their lead in the 31st minute off a brilliant attacking sequence. Left back Ali Maâloul passed to Khazri in a central position, who then provided a through ball to Saîf-Eddine Khaoui. The midfielder then unselfishly laid a pass off to Mohamed Drager for the Nottingham Forest player to finish into an empty net. Zambia finally had their first chance in the 33rd minute, but after Fashion Sakala benefitted from a fortuitous bounce, Tunisia shot stopper Farouk Ben Mustapha was quick off his line to deny the Rangers FC forward.

Tunisia put the match away in the 43rd minute when Maâloul scored his second international goal. The Al Ahly fullback had room on the left, and anticipated that Nsabata would be anticipating a cross, instead curling an accurate shot into the goal with Nsabata unable to get back over to cover. Zambia stepped up their attacking efforts some in the second half but could only get one goal back, with Sakala having a 79th minute penalty kick saved right back to him before putting in the rebound.

In the other match, last placed Group B side Mauritania offered stiff resistance at home against an Equatorial Guinea side that needed a win to have any hope of overtaking Tunisia. The teams played out a 1-1 draw with Mauritanian captain Aboubakar Kamara opening the scoring in the 22nd minute after receiving a low cross from Amadou Niass and tapping into an empty net. Equatoguinean defender Saúl Coco leveled the match in the second half with a header following a corner kick, but the visitors could not get the win they needed.

Highlights of the Tunisia victory are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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