Tunisia won a stunning 1-0 victory over France, but it was not enough to move to the World Cup knockout stages.
Needing a win and Denmark to escape defeat to Australia to have a chance, Jalel Kadri’s players delivered with a thrilling effort highlighted by Wahbi Khazri’s spectacular second-half strike.
However, Australia’s 1-0 win over Denmark meant that the Socceroos would join France in qualifying from Group D.
France were already secured a place in the last 16, and Didier Deschamps’ starting XI reflected that, with the manager making nine changes from the team that defeated Denmark on Saturday.
For the most part, France appeared to be thrown together, albeit Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann were sent on to salvage the situation immediately after the defending champions went behind. Griezmann almost scored in stoppage time, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Khazri was involved in most of Tunisia’s greatest moments, and he almost contributed to the first goal after eight minutes. His wicked, inswinging free-kick escaped France’s defense and was turned in by Nader Ghandri, only to be ruled out by an offside flag.
Khazri came within 10 minutes of scoring himself, requiring goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to palm his long-range attempt away.
Randal Kolo Muani played in Kingsley Coman in the meantime, but his first touch was terrible, causing him to slice his shot wide.
Khazri’s next big contribution culminated in the first goal. The Montpellier player, who has spent the majority of his career in France, picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and slid through the France defense before shooting past Mandanda.
Deschamps went to his big guns, but they couldn’t break through a tenacious Tunisian defense, despite coming near three times – Mbappe forcing a stunning save from Aymen Dahmen after a wonderful piece of brilliance, before Kolo Muani fired barely wide. Then, in injury time, Griezmann blasted in only for VAR to intervene and reject the goal for offside.
What does it imply? – Reserve options are struggling to establish a case.
Few of France’s second string improved their chances of starting in their last-16 encounter, with only Randal Kolo Muani standing out. Jordan Veretout, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Youssouf Fofana, all midfielders, were notably unimpressive.
Nonetheless, France finishes first in Group D with six points from two games.
Tunisia finished third, two points behind the winner.
Kolo Muani leaves his imprint
Kolo Muani was a late call-up to the squad to replace the injured Christopher Nkunku, and he was given the opportunity to impress with Mbappe and Olivier Giroud resting for the larger challenges ahead.
The Eintracht Frankfurt striker survived on scraps for the most part, but his determination to run the channels would have impressed Dechamps.
Khazri is far too astute for France.
In his career, Khazri has frequently pleased to deceive, but his brilliance is undeniable.
Despite playing for less than an hour, Khazri led Tunisia in shots (three) and shots on target (two).
What comes next?
France advanced to the round of 16 after winning Group D. They will face the winner of Group C, which may be any of Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, or Mexico at this point.
Tunisia will return home with their heads held high.