It was a bittersweet win which Tunisia will remember for posterity as the African nation registered its first win over France in over fifty years on Wednesday.
The 1-0 win didn’t prevent the side from crashing out of the FIFA World Cup as the team finished third in the group with four points as Australia beat Denmark 1-0 in the other group match to finish second with six points and qualify for the round of 16.
French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the game as Tunisia upset World Cup holders France at the Education City Stadium.
Tunisia’s win ended France’s run of six consecutive wins in World Cups. Their last defeat in the tournament came in 2014 in the quarterfinals against Germany.
Khazri steered home a 58th-minute winner amid a cluster of defenders for only a third victory at six World Cup tournaments for Tunisia but they were still eliminated.
Khazri, who grew up in Corsica and plays in Ligue 1 for Montpellier, was one of six players in the Tunisian line-up who were born on French soil and he was capped by France at Under-21 level.
There is a large Tunisian community in France who will savour the result, the country’s first win against European opposition at a World Cup and just their third ever in 18 matches at the tournament.
France, who made nine changes for this match from the team that beat Denmark and had already booked their place in the knockout stages, finished top of Group D on goal difference from runners-up Australia, who beat Denmark 1-0 at the same time.
Deschamps did the same thing he did four years ago. The result then was a soporific 0-0 draw which did not ultimately stop France from winning the title. 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 get beyond the group stage at a World Cup for the first time.
The win was almost snuffed out by Antoine Griezmann when he found the back of the net in the eighth minute of stoppage time. After stunning the Tunisian fans to silence, VAR disallowed the goal.
The French forward was standing in an offside position before the free kick was delivered into the Tunisia penalty area.
His presence was deemed to have interfere in the Tunisia defender’s action which helped Griezmann score the goal.
While the referee gave the goal, he was asked to double check the action on the VAR screen. After a review, the referee, Matthew Conger, overturned his decision to disallow France’s equaliser.
Tunisia and France share a tense political history given their colonial past. Some Tunisian fans even whistled at the French national anthem when it was played before kickoff.
There was more political flavour to an already charged up game when a fan invaded the pitch, holding what looked like a Palestine flag.
France will now take on the runners-up in Group C, which will be determined later on Wednesday.