The FIFA World Cup reigning champions, France, became the first team to qualify for the knockout phase of the FIFA World Cup 2022 when they defeated Denmark 2-1 with a Kylian Mbappé double on Saturday. With a draw game against Tunisia today, France will mathematically guarantee first place in Group D for Didier Deschamps’ team. While Tunisia, who have yet to score in Qatar, must win and hope Australia does not defeat Denmark in the group’s other final fixture to stand any chance of making further progress.
Didier Deschamps made nine changes to use this opportunity to give his squad players a go at the World Cup. In the opening minutes, Tunisia holds more possession than France. At 8 minutes, Tunisia Nader Ghandri volleyed into the back of the net after his teammate delivered the freekick into the box. Unfortunately, it was ruled out as an offside goal by a fraction using the VAR technology.
Tunisia striker Wahbi Khazri dribbled into the box, avoiding France’s defender and got down. Khazri asked for a penalty, but the referee did not entertain him.
A thrilling counter-attack happened around 25 minutes, where the France striker Kingsley Coman saw his effort saved. Then, A big save was made by French Aymen Dahmen, where Wahbi Khazri set up a volley nicely, but the keeper caught and saved. Tunisia and France will have another two extra minutes to break the lock. It was a busy day at the office for France keeper Steve Mandanda as Tunisia kept pressing and attacking aggressively and had the most attacking chance in the first half.
Tunisia’s Ellyes Skhiri saw the chance and flicked the ball to Wahbi Khazri, who went down with his back to the goal inside the box. Again, the referee did not entertain that and played on. 47th minute, Tunisia and France remain 0-0.
Aïssa Laïdouni had a chance to rewrite the scoreline in the 52nd minute, but the ball went over the bar at a tight angle. Shortly after, 58th minute, Wahbi Khazri delivered a goal to Tunisia by slotting the ball into the far corner! This goal would be enough to send them into the last 16 if Australia and Denmark settled for a draw.
Deschamps decided to play Antoine Griezmann, Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappé and used their last substitute by calling Ousmane Dembélé.
The substitute Ousmane Dembélé almost scored against Tunisia, where he saw his chance outside the box. He tried, but the Tunisia keeper saved it.
Kylian Mbappé picks up the ball on the left and shows superb skill, speed, and agility to keep it in play and beat two defenders. He then smashes a shot from a tight angle, which is then stopped and parried away by Aymen Dahmen. Then, France’s Kolo Muani could have been the hero of drawing the game. His well-hit shot was a slight nick which sees it roll inches wide of the post.
Added time for this match was eight minutes, supposedly enough for both teams to attack and defend. A famous victory for Tunisia against France slipped away when Antoine Griezmann grabbed the chance and fired away.
A dramatic intervention where VAR plays a part. The VAR disallowed France’s goal as Griezmann was in the offside position when the ball crossed in. The score is back to the original state. Tunisia 1, France 0.
Tunisia secured a bittersweet victory, winning over the reigning World Champion but exiting the FIFA World Cup 2022. On the other hand, France advanced into Round 16 at the top of the table.
Photo Credit: FIFA