Tunisia held off France 1-0 on Wednesday, but finished third in the Group D standings and on the outside looking in at the Round of 16.
Before kickoff, the stage had been set for a hectic day in the Group standings, with Tunisia’s advancement hopes hinging on a win over France and a loss for Australia to Denmark. The action in both matches certainly lived up to the hype.
Wahbi Khazri got Tunisia on the board in the 58th minute, single-handedly taking on the French backline. The 31-year-old was also involved in an early first half goal — taking the free kick that set up teammate Nader Ghandri for the shot — but Ghandri was ultimately called offsides.
Just minutes after Khazri gave Tunisia the lead, Australia’s Mathew Leckie struck back. Leckie slotted a shot past Denmark, launching the Socceroos back into second place.
Back at Education City Stadium, France decided to bring the pressure after having bench several starters. Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé and Adrien Rabiot all checked in an immediately reminded everyone why France is the defending World Cup champions.
On the other sideline, Tunisian players and fans were spotted watching the Australia-Denmark game, hoping for a Danish miracle.
While the improved French lineup poured on the offense, Tunisia stood tall through much of the second half. The drama really ramped up in stoppage time when Griezmann volleyed the ball into the back of the net, seemingly shattering any remaining hope for Tunisia.
After an unusually long delay, VAR was eventually consulted and ruled Griezmann offsides.
The initial eight-minute stoppage time ultimately went 13 minutes, but the fate of Tunisia had already been sealed with Australia’s win.
Both Australia and France finished the group stage with six points, but Les Bleus get the nod on goal differential. France now awaits the results from Group B, with the chance to play Poland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia or a much-anticipated date with Lionel Messi and Argentina.
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