SARANSK Russia (Xinhua) --
Wahbi Khazri struck a second-half winner as
Tunisia secured their first World Cup victory in 40 years by
overcoming Panama 2-1 on Thursday.
gifted Panama the lead by turning the ball into his own net
before Fakhreddine Ben Youssef equalized just after halftime.
Khazri completed the turnaround just after the hour mark with
his second goal of the tournament.
The North African
side’s last victory in football’s flagship event was a 3-1
defeat of Mexico in Argentina in 1978.
The result had no
bearing on the final Group G standings as both teams were
already eliminated from the competition. Belgium topped the
group with nine points after their 1-0 win over England, who
finished second with six points. Tunisia go home with three
points while Panama were last in the group with three straight
Tunisia looked the
better team early here but Naim Sliti and Ben Youssef both
spurned chances to put their team ahead.
against the run of play just after the half-hour mark when Jose
Luis Rodriguez’s long-range shot deflected off Meriah, giving
goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi no chance.
Tunisia continued to
surge forward in numbers and Panama had captain Roman Torres to
thank when he booted clear Khazri’s second effort after his
initial attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
six minutes after the restart when Sliti set up Khazri on the
right before the Rennes forward pulled the ball back to Ben
Youssef, who stabbed a shot into the left corner.
Ben Youssef should
have scored again two minutes later but sent a shot straight at
Penedo when he had only the goalkeeper to beat.
Panama were under
sustained attack and there was a sense of inevitability about
the goal that put them behind in the 66th minute.
began the move with a slide-rule pass from the left and Khazri
was perfectly positioned at the far post to fire in his 14th