Tunisia will head home from Russia 2018 with some cheer after they came from a goal down to beat Panama 2-1 at the Mordovia Arena on Thursday.
- Panama 1 Tunisia 2
- Meriah OG (33′) gives Panama the lead
- Khazri misses big chance to equalise
- Ben Youssef (51′) equalises soon after
- Khazri (66′) finishes at the back post
Los Canaleros took a first-half lead through a Yassine Meriah own-goal. Nabil Maaloul’s side then produced an excellent comeback as Fakhreddine Ben Youssef and Wahbi Khazri netted in the second half to ensure they depart the World Cup with a victory under their belt.
Both teams came into the game with only pride to play for with England and Belgium confirming their progression from the group after the first two matches.
It was Tunisia who created the first decent scoring opportunity in the ninth minute. Khazri made a clever run before he laid the ball up for Naim Sliti, who had a go from outside the box but his strike went high and wide.
The Eagles of Carthage were doing all the running with Panama forced to sit back and defend. It was the Central Americans, however, who took a shock lead in the 33rd minute. Jose Luiz Rodriguez picked out Roman Torres on the edge of the box and his low strike took a massive deflection of Meriah to deceive Aymen Mathlouthi in goal.
Khazri had a chance to equalise just before half-time, but Jaime Penedo threw himself at the striker’s shot kept his team in front.
The North Africans drew level just six minutes into the second-half, though. Sliti showed good skill to turn in midfield and run at the opposition defence. With the goal in sight, he could have pulled he trigger from outside the box, but chose to play in Khazri, who stroked the ball to the back post for an unmarked Ben Youssef to tap in.
They almost scored a second goal two minutes later. Khazri ran through on goal and looked to shoot before he was tackled by Torres. The ball then deflected towards Ben Youssef, who only had the keeper to beat, but Penedo made a good save as he came out and made himself big.
Tunisia were not be denied as substitute Anice Badri slid the ball in towards Ehsan Haddadi, who then picked out Khazri for a simple finish at the back post in the 66th minute.
Hernan Dario Gomez’s men had a chance to claim their first-ever point at the World Cup in the dying minutes, but Edgar Barcenas’ free-kick from 20 yards out flew straight into the gloves of Mathlouthi.