Tunisia restores a little pride for Africa
Anibal Godoy of Panama (R) and Ellyes Skhiri of Tunisia in actrion during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group G preliminary round soccer match between Panama and Tunisia in Saransk, Russia, 28 June 2018.
Thursday Jun 28, 2018. 21:59
Africa’s participation at the 2018 World Cup at least finished on a positive note after Tunisia defeated Panama 2-1 in their final match at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk on Thursday night.
The result sees the Carthage Eagles end in third place in Group G, while Los Canaleros placed fourth with a hat-trick of losses on their tournament debut.
Both teams showed urgency and intent in attack through the first half, but in truth goalkeepers Jaime Penedo and Aymen Mathlouthi were rarely called upon to make any significant plays.
Penedo’s only real action arrived in the 19th minute when a cross from Wahbi Khazri brought a scruffy effort from Rami Bedoui which the ‘keeper easily smothered.
Panama then claimed the lead through a slice of luck in the 33rd minute. Jose Rodriguez’s long-range effort took a wicked deflection off Yassine Meriah, who was credited with an own goal after the ball wrong-footed Mathlouthi and found the net.
The Carthage Eagles responded well to going behind and created several opportunities to level the game before the break, the best of which saw Fakhreddine Ben Youssef send a glancing header just wide of the target on 39 minutes.
The ginger-haired striker did find the back of the net early in the second half, getting on the end of a low Wahbi Khazri cross and sweeping home a shot from close range to make it 1-1 on 51 minutes.
And Ben Youssef was at it again just a couple of minutes later, running onto a loose ball in the box after Khazri had been tripped up, but Penedo did just enough to turn his goal-bound effort away for a corner kick.
The Carthage Eagles claimed the lead for the first time on 66 minutes, with another slick move ending with left-back Oussama Haddadi providing a low cross for Khazri to turn home at the back post.
Tunisia were able to see out the game safely, and even had the chance to bring on substitutes which ensured all 23 of their players were used during the campaign in Russia.
Panama (1) 1 (Meriah og 33’)
Tunisia (0) 2 (F. Ben Youssef 51’, Khazri 66’)
Panama: Penedo, Machado, R. Torres (Tejada 56’), Escobar, Ovalle, Barcenas, Godoy, Gomez, Avila (Arroyo 81’), Rodriguez. G. Torres (Cummings 46’)
Tunisia: Mathlouthi, Nagguez, Bedoui, Meriah, Haddadi, Sassi (Badri 46’), Skhiri, Chaalali, F. Ben Youssef, Sliti (Khalil 76’), Khazri (Srarfi 89’)
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