Tunisia is out of the World Cup despite its surprising victory over France
DOHA: French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the match as Tunisia secured a famous 1-0 victory over reigning champions France on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough for them to reach the round of 16.
France coach Didier Deschamps, whose team had already qualified for the knockout stages, made nine changes but it was a shadow of their usual selves and Khazri punished them in the 58th minute at the Education City Stadium.
Tunisia then held on to win after Antoine Griezmann’s goal was disallowed in stoppage time after a VAR review.
Khazri, who grew up in Corsica and plays in Ligue 1 for Montpellier, was one of six players in the Tunisian squad born on French soil and capped with the France Under-21 side.
There is a large Tunisian community in France who will relish the result, the country’s first victory over a European opponent in a World Cup and their third ever victory in 18 matches in the tournament.
However, they needed Australia to drop points in today’s other Group D match to stand a chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time.
Australia’s 1-0 win over Denmark means they will play the match against France.
The world champions and Australia finish tied on six points, but France lead the division on goal difference and will await the Group C runners-up in the last 16 on Sunday.
Les Bleus were the first team to secure a place in the next round after winning their first two matches in Qatar, so it was no surprise that Deschamps opted to make changes.
Kylian Mbappe was one of those to drop out, with Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randall Kolo Mwane starting to make his international debut.
There was also a start at right-back for Axel Desassi, the first player on the field to make his debut for France in a World Cup match since 1966, while Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga started at left-back.
France was unrecognizable as Deschamps repeated what he did four years earlier, when he made sweeping changes in the final group match against Denmark.
The result then was a disgusting 0-0 draw which ultimately did not prevent France from winning the title.
This time France’s second chord performance was like they had never played together before, and Tunisia – with a partisan crowd behind them – sensed their chance as they looked to make it past the group stage of a World Cup for the first time.
The crowd erupted when Tunisia put the ball into the net after just eight minutes.
Nader Ghandari converted Khazri’s free kick past Steve Mandanda, but it was only offside.
Starting a World Cup final for the first time, captain Khazri also palmed Mandanda with a volley in the 35th minute, while a deflected shot by Kingsley Coman was close to France.
They were disjointed, and it was no surprise that Tunisia took the lead.
France appealed unsuccessfully due to a foul as Elias Skhiri sent off Youssouf Fofana, and Khazri ran before hitting a shot past Mandanda.
Deschamps then sent on Mbappe, Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in a bid to avoid France’s first World Cup group stage defeat since the disastrous 2010 season.
And Griezmann thought he equalized in stoppage time when he hit a ball inside the penalty area, but the referee canceled the goal for offside after a lengthy review by the video assistant referee.