French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the match on Wednesday as Tunisia famously 1-0 win over holders France at the World Cup, but it wasn’t enough for them to reach the last 16.
French coach Didier Deschamps, whose team had already progressed to the knockouts, made nine changes, but they were a shadow of their usual selves and Khazri punished them in the 58th minute at Education City Stadium.
Tunisia then had to hold on for victory as Antoine Griezmann’s goal was disallowed in stoppage time after a VAR review.
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Khazri, who grew up in Corsica and plays for Montpellier in Ligue 1, was one of six players in the Tunisian line-up to have been born on French soil and was capped by France at Under-21 level.
There is a large Tunisian community in France who will enjoy the result, the country’s first victory against European opposition at a World Cup and only their third ever in 18 matches at the tournament.
However, they needed Australia to drop points in the day’s other Group D match for a chance to reach the last 16 for the first time.
The Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Denmark means it’s them who go through with France.
The world champions and Australia finished tied on six points, but France lead the section on goal difference and await Group C runners-up in the last 16 on Sunday.
Les Bleus were the first team to secure a place in the next round after winning their first two games in Qatar, so it came as no surprise that Deschamps opted to make changes.
Kylian Mbappe was one of those to drop out, while Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani got his first international start up front.
There was also a start at right back for Axel Disasi, the first outfield player to make his French debut in a World Cup match since 1966, while Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga started at left back.
– Griezmann denied equalizer –
France were unrecognizable when Deschamps repeated what he had done four years ago when he made sweeping changes ahead of the final group stage match against Denmark.
The result was then a sleep-inducing 0-0 draw that ultimately did not prevent France from winning the title.
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This time France’s second string performed as if they had never played together before and Tunisia – with a partisan crowd behind them – sensed their chance as they looked to progress past the group stage at a World Cup for the first time.
The crowd erupted when Tunisia shot the ball into the net in just eight minutes.
Nader Ghandri deflected Khazri’s free kick past Steve Mandanda, but it was just offside.
Captain Khazri started this World Cup for the first time and also jabbed Mandanda’s palms with a volley in the 35th minute, while a shot that went wide of Kingsley Coman came as close as France.
They were disjointed and it was no surprise that Tunisia took the lead.
France unsuccessfully appealed for foul as Youssouf Fofana was dispossessed by Ellyes Skhiri, and Khazri ran on before firing a shot past Mandanda.
Deschamps then dispatched Mbappe as well as Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in a bid to avoid France’s first World Cup group stage defeat since their disastrous 2010 campaign.
Griezmann thought he had equalized deep into stoppage time when he volleyed into the penalty area, but the referee ruled the goal offside after a lengthy VAR assessment.
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