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VAR intervenes late as Tunisia upsets France for historic World Cup victory

It was a bittersweet feeling for supporters of the Tunisia national team after the Carthage Eagles stunned Group D winners France 1-0 in their final group stage match at the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday in Al Wakrah. Wahbi Khazri’s 58th minute goal gave Tunisia their first ever win against the French team but it was not enough to give the North African nation their first ever knockout stage appearance due to Australia’s 1-0 victory over Denmark. Tunisia exit the competition with four points from their three matches while France qualifies as the group winners and Australia the runners-up.

After France opened the competition with two wins manager Didier Deschamps rested his stars and put out an experimental lineup, a perfect situation for a Tunisia team that played with the highest urgency knowing a victory could keep their tournament hopes alive. The Carthage Eagles controlled play for long stretches in the first half and Khazri was the most dangerous player, setting up an apparent early goal that was ruled offside before firing a knuckling effort from distance that gave French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda plenty of trouble as he pushed it away.

Kingsley Coman came closest to scoring for France during one of the team’s few positive moments in the opening eighty minutes, sending his 25th minute shot wide following a quick break through the Tunisian midfield and defense. Tunisia continued to look strong after halftime and opened the scoring soon before the hour mark with an excellent team effort. Ellyes Skhiri won the ball in midfield and laid off to Aïssa Laïdouni, who set up Khazri for a quick dribbling run took him by multiple French defenders before rolling a shot past Mandanda to send the crowd into celebration.

Deschamps brought on star attackers Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann five minutes later but France encountered a stubborn Tunisian defense that came under plenty of pressure. Tunisia keeper Aymen Dahmen kept out Mbappe’s powerful strike in the 89th minute before watching Randal Kolo Muani’s deflected shot go just wide a minute later. It appeared that France snatched a last second equalizer from Griezmann’s volley but the Video Assistant Referee dramatically intervened to rule the Atlético Madrid forward offside.

Despite the joy of Tunisia collecting their second ever FIFA World Cup victory from a sixth appearance, the Carthage Eagles needed Australia to lose or draw to advance to the knockout stage but the Socceroos had other plans with their 1-0 victory over Denmark clinching second place.

Click the link below to watch highlights of the match.

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