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Wahbi Khazri scores as Tunisia end with 2-1 win over Panama
June 29, 2018, 1:30 am
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A second-half strike from Sunderland's Wahbi Khazri ensured Tunisia ended their World Cup Group G campaign with a victory, as Panama finished bottom. The north African side, who had 14 chances, fell a goal behind when Jose Luis Rodriguez's effort deflected in off Yassine Meriah.

Fakhreddine Ben Youssef equalised when he tapped home Khazri's low ball. The provider of that goal then scored his second of the tournament when he fired home Oussama Haddadi's cross.

Khazri leads way for Tunisia

In the build-up to this match, Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul had said his team were "two generations" from reaching the level needed be competitive against the best sides in world football.

Aside from the 5-2 defeat by Belgium, that assessment is perhaps a little harsh as his side almost earned a point against England before this deserved victory.

They often overwhelmed their opponents in attack inside Mordovia Arena, with Khazri the heartbeat of their attack.

His pinpoint cross for Ben Youssef helped Tunisia draw level, before he settled the contest with a close-range finish - the 2,500th goal in World Cup tournament history.

Khazri was denied a second goal, his third of the tournament, by an exceptional one-handed stop by keeper Jaime Penedo.

The 27-year-old might be a man in demand after his displays in Russia - Sunderland say they have already rejected offers, and may now have to consider more.

Panama finish with heads held high

When Panama scored their first goal at a World Cup, in the 6-1 defeat by England, there were tears of joy in the central American country.

Having lost the lead against Tunisia, perhaps there will be a feeling of disappointment this time.

But luck was on their side for their goal. Tunisia's Aymen Mathlouthi appeared to be in the right position to collect a shot from Rodriguez, however the ball took a slight deflection which fooled the keeper.

That was one of the few times they troubled Tunisia's third-choice keeper. Edgar Barcenas went close twice, but his first effort was blocked by Mathlouthi and the second was disallowed for an earlier foul.

Panama finish with zero points from their first World Cup campaign, but their legion of travelling fans will no doubt be satisfied they managed to see their team in football's biggest tournament.

Man of the match - Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)

Wahbi Khazri

There was no competition for the award - one goal, one assist, five shots with three on target

Tunisia break losing run - the stats

  • Tunisia's victory over Panama means they have won just their second World Cup game and their first since beating Mexico in 1978 (3-1) in what was their debut in the competition.
  • Tunisia ended a 13-game winless run at World Cup finals (D4 L9).
  • Both of Tunisia's World Cup victories have come in games in which they were trailing at half-time.
  • Panama's defeat means they have become the first nation since Serbia and Togo in 2006 to lose each of their first three World Cup games.
  • Tunisia have now conceded in each of their past 12 World Cup games, keeping their last and only clean sheet in the competition back in 1978 against Germany (0-0).
  • Panama's goal means this is the first World Cup tournament in which every side has scored at least two goals in the competition.
  • Meriah's own goal was the 50th in World Cup history.
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