Tunisia won their first World Cup in 40 years, after two second-half goals helped them see off the challenge of Panama in their final World Cup match.
Heading into the game, neither side could qualify from the group. However, in what was essentially a dead rubber match, both sides played some entertaining football.
In a cagey opening period, Panama broke the deadlock. A strike from range was parried by Tunisia goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi, and it returned to the Panama midfield, where Jose Rodriguez struck an effort from range which deflected off Yassine Meriah and into the empty net.
However, Tunisia crafted their own opportunities to equalise in the opening period. Left-back Oussamma Haddadi was a constant threat down the left flank and delivered pinpoint deliveries into the area. But neither Ben Youssef nor Wahib Khazri could convert from his crosses.
The second half was a different story. After making changes at the interval, Tunisia came out with a fresh impetus and were a constant threat on the Panama goal, and the pressure paid dividends. The first came five minutes into the second half, when, from a great run, Khazri squared for Ben Youssef who tied things up by tapping home into the empty net.
They then took the lead halfway through the second half when Khazri squared the ball in the area and put Tunisia in the ascendancy.
Panama attempted to push on and grab a point, and could have equalised late on, but they failed to get a shot off before the goal line scramble was cleared.
Tunisia held on to secure all three points and to finish third in the group by grabbing an historic World Cup win.
Panama can be proud of their efforts First World Cup. Two goals. The Panamanians have added something different to this World Cup, and put up a good fight this evening.
Khazri is the heart of Tunisia’s team The former Sunderland man was influential tonight, and if he had a little more quality around him, Tunisia may have had a chance of advancing to the next round.
Tunisia need a striker Tunisia can attack — Khazri and Ben Youssef are threats. But they need an out and out striker if they are to push on and challenge the better sides next time.
Haddadi was excellent The Tunisia left-back was fantastic on the left flank. He produced two excellent opportunities in the first half, and helped set up the winning goal in the second half. Superb performance.
Panama fans have lit up this World Cup Panama brought so many fans to this World Cup and they did not disappoint with their spectacular presence. They made plenty of noise, and truly were their team’s 12th man.