MX23RW : Tuesday, August 3 08:24:23| >> :600:1332045:1332045:
Jun 28, 2018 at 7pm UK at Mordovia Arena
Attendance: 37,168
PanamaPanama
1-2
Tunisia
Meriah (33' og.)
FT(HT: 1-0)
Ben Youssef (51'), Khazri (66')

Live Commentary: Panama 1-2 Tunisia - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's blow-by-blow account of the World Cup Group G game between Panama and Tunisia in Saransk, which finished 2-1 to the Carthage Eagles.
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Tunisia have claimed their first victory at the World Cup for 40 years by coming from behind to clinch a 2-1 win over Panama in Thursday's Group G finale in Saransk.

The Canaleros took the lead in the 33rd minute as Jose Luis Rodriguez's shot took a deflection off Yassine Meriah en route to the back of the Carthage Eagles net.

However, Nabil Maaloul's charges equalised on 51 minutes when Fakhreddine Ben Youssef slotted home from Wahbi Khazri's delivery across the face of goal.

Tunisia then completed their comeback in the 66 minute through Khazri, who was on hand to tap Oussama Haddadi's cutback into the back of the Panama net.

Here is how Sports Mole covered the action at the Mordovia Arena.


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Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the World Cup Group G meeting between Panama and Tunisia!

Just two round-robin games left in Russia, as Group G's final standings will be confirmed in the next three hours. England and Belgium have already qualified and will be duking it out for first and second place, while Panama and Tunisia will seek to end their campaign on a high in what should be a lively game where both teams can express themselves!

The team news are through so let's take a look at who will be starting tonight in Saransk...

PANAMA STARTING XI: Penedo, Escobar, R. Torres, Gomez, Barcenas, G. Torres, Machado, Ovalle, Avila, Godoy, J. Rodriguez

TUNISIA STARTING XI: Mathlouthi, Meriah, Haddadi, Bedoui, Ben Youssef, Khazri, Sassi, Skhiri, Chaaleli, Naguez, Sliti

Panama have made four changes from the side that fell to a 6-1 defeat by England last time out.

Michael Murillo and Armando Cooper are suspended after picking up bookings in both of their country's first two games, so they drop out of the XI alongside Eric Davis and Blas Perez.

In their place, coach Hernan Dario Gomez has named Adolfo Machado, Luis Ovalle, Ricardo Avila and Gabriel Torres in the starting lineup.

Tunisia have also made a number of changes, with six alterations following their 5-2 defeat to Belgium last time out.

Defender Dylan Bronn misses out with a leg injury, having been carried off against the Red Devils on Sunday, while the country's two main goalkeepers, Farouk Ben Mustapha and Mouez Hassen, are both out of action.

Ben Mustapha, Bronn, Syam Ben Youssef, Ali Maaloul, Saif-Eddine Khaoui and Anice Badri all drop out of the XI, with Aymen Mathlouthi, Oussama Haddadi, Rami Bedoui, Ghaylene Chaalali, Hamdi Naguez and Naim Sliti coming in.

PANAMA SUBS: Cummings, Perez, Calderon, Pimentel, Davis, Arroyo, Tejada, A. Rodriguez, Baloy

TUNISIA SUBS: Benalouane, Khaoui, Badri, Maaloul, Ben Amor, Khalil, Srarfi, Khalifa

Panama line up in a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 formation, with striker Gabriel Torres supported by Edgar Barcenas and Jose Rodriguez, a midfield three of Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Gomez and Ricardo Avila, and a back four of Adolfo Machado, Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar and Luis Ovalle.

Tunisia, meanwhile, are in a 4-3-3 formation, with Wahbi Khazri leading the line, Naim Sliti and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef either side, a midfield three of Ghilane Chaalali, Ellyes Skhiri and Ferjani Sassi, and a back four of Oussama Haddadi, Yassine Meriah, Rami Bedoui and Hamdi Nagguez.

Although Panama have won few plaudits for their physical / aggressive style of play (delete as appropriate) at the World Cup, their fans have been rightly lauded for their enthusiasm and conduct in Russia, even cleaning up the stands after the 6-1 loss to England, and they have enjoyed every minute of the tournament despite losing both games so far. Will they be rewarded with their first ever World Cup point (or win) tonight?

In all honesty though, Panama have appeared out of their depth at times in this competition, though facing the group's big guns one after the other will not have helped. Los Canaleros have conceded the most goals in this tournament as the 3-0 loss to Belgium was followed by the 6-1 defeat by England.

On the positive side, Felipe Baloy did make history by becoming the first Panamanian player to score at the finals of the World Cup, a moment which was thoroughly celebrated by the nation's fans and many neutrals worldwide.

Here is that moment, and check out the unadulterated joy in the stands!



Tunisia, meanwhile, will be desperate to arrest a poor run - they are winless in their last 13 World Cup matches, stretching back to 1978.

The Carthage Eagles really haven't had much luck in Russia - not only did they lose several key players before the tournament even started, but now they will have to use their third-choice keeper due to injuries to the first two (a different goalkeeper for each of the three group games, in fact), and with FIFA refusing to allow Moez Ben Cherifia to join the squad as a back-up, an outfield player will have to go in goal should anything happen to Mathlouthi.

Luckily, Mouez Hassen is on the mend, as the Tunisia football federation has revealed.



Tunisia are playing their final World Cup group match at exactly the same time as England's finale, and this is not the first time it has happened. Coincidentally, the previous time was also in Group G.

In France 1998, a whole 20 years ago, Tunisia played out a 1-1 draw against Romania, which sent the Carthage Eagles out of the competition, as England ran out 2-0 winners over Colombia (who the Three Lions could face in the second round). Colombia's coach that night? Current Panama boss Hernan Dario Gomez!

With just over 15 minutes before kickoff, let's take a look at some of the stats surrounding the game.

In terms of head-to-head stats, there are none - this is the first ever meeting between Panama and Tunisia.

Tunisia have previously faced just one CONCACAF side at a World Cup finals, winning 3-1 against Mexico in 1978 - their first ever World Cup match.

Panama have conceded nine goals from 13 shots on target faced so far at the World Cup, while Tunisia have already conceded more goals at this World Cup than they did in any of their previous four tournaments, with a tally of seven - their previous high was six conceded in 2006.

SCORE PREDICTION: Under 10 minutes until kickoff, so it's time for me to have a go at predicting the final score tonight. With both sides already out of contention for the knockouts, they can play without pressure and will want to give their fans one final show, hopefully one with plenty of attacking football, but on the whole I think Tunisia have more quality and experience, so I'm going for a 4-2 win for the North Africans.

The players are out, lined up on the pitch, and here are the national anthems - Panama go first as the designated home team, followed by Tunisia.

For all you trivia buffs, Panama's anthem is called the Himno Istmeño (Isthmian Hymn), while the Tunisian anthem is Humat al-Hima (defenders of the homeland).

Roman Torres and Aymen Mathlouthi are the two captains in Saransk, with Bahraini Nawaf Shukralla the referee this evening.

KICKOFF! The Panamanians, all in red, get the action at the Mordovia Arena underway against Tunisia, who are in all-white!

Torres shows his intent early on for Panama, trying to run in behind the Tunisian defence, but the Carthage Eagles are alert, boast intent, and try to exert some pressure of their own up the pitch. Fairly steady start here in Saransk.

Panama win a free kick on the right-hand side, which Avila delivers, but the ball runs straight through to Mathlouthi.

Now Tunisia get to have a go from a set piece, and Khazri steps up, but he ends up putting too much power on it, missing his teammates, and Ovalle can clear.

Sliti cuts back on the left flank and finds Ben Youssef in the box with a neat low cross, but the ensuing effort is miskicked and Penedo claims with ease.

CHANCE! Sassi slips the ball towards Sliti, who goes for the overhead kick, but his effort goes wide of the post.

Khazri's cushioned layoff finds Sliti, who decides to strike on the volley, but Penedo is left untroubled as it flies high and wide.

CHANCE! A long throw-in from Machado gets flicked on to Gomez in the box, but the ensuing header from eight yards drops wide.

Torres almost goes through on goal, but after Penedo's clearance is headed on, the forward is flagged for offside.

Khazri makes a run into the box to latch on to a pass and holds the ball up before slotting into the path of Ben Youssef, whose first-time shot is blocked by Escobar.

Tunisia win a corner which Khazri delivers, it's half-cleared by Panama and the Sunderland man can have another go at a delivery, this time Meriah meets it at the back post but Penedo saves.

Over in Kaliningrad it's still goalless between England and Belgium, so as things stand, the Three Lions top Group G, the Red Devils are second, Tunisia third and Panama bottom.

Sassi sends a cross up the pitch which finds Sliti just outside the box, but the Lille man fluffs his lines and the ball ends up straight at Penedo.

Barcenas makes a run down the left flank before cutting the ball back for Avila, but Haddadi has it covered and the danger is cleared.

Barcenas claims the ball in midfield and is then brought to ground by Chaaleli, who escapes a caution, but the ensuing free kick is too deep and nothing comes of it.

Little to report about as we edge towards the half-hour mark of this game, though Tunisia have had the better of things and look the more likely to score in Saransk.

A probing ball forward from Rodriguez sets Barcenas away on the wing, but the move is thwarted by the linesman's flag, waving for offside.

GOAL! PANAMA 1-0 TUNISIA (JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ)

Absolute joy in the stands as Panama follow up their historic goal against England with their second ever World Cup strike, youngster Jose Luis Rodriguez putting Los Canaleros in the lead!

Torres sees an effort blocked and the rebound lands to the feet of Rodriguez who strikes towards goal, the ball taking a deflection off Meriah before going beyond Mathlouthi and into the back of the net! It remains to be seen whether it will be awarded to Rodriguez after the powers that be have a closer look, but Panama will not care one jot!

Panama are now pushing forward in search of more after drawing first blood as a free kick from the left loops down into the Tunisia box but it's eventually cleared.

I remember plenty of World Cups finishing with one or more teams failing to get a single goal at the finals, but here is a very pleasant stat for you all...



CHANCE! Haddadi floats a dangerous cross into the box and Ben Youssef gets a connection but his header ends up just wide of the post! Close to an equaliser for Tunisia!

CHANCE! More pressing from Tunisia and Haddadi once again sends a neat delivery into the danger zone, but Khazri hammers the ball over the bar from eight yards out!

BOOKING: We have the first yellow card of the game and it goes the way of the frustrated Tunisians as Sassi scythes through Rodriguez.

Two minutes are added on at the end of this half as Khazri spurns two chances in close succession, his first effort kept out by Penedo and Torres eventually clearing the second.

HALF TIME: PANAMA 1-0 TUNISIA

It's half time at the Mordovia Arena and Panama are 45 minutes away from a momentous first ever World Cup victory in their tournament debut as they lead Tunisia by a goal to nil.

Tunisia have been the better side in terms of stats but Panama are ahead thanks to what has now been confirmed as an own goal for Yassine Meriah, who deflected Jose Luis Rodriguez's effort into the back of his own net just after the half-hour mark.

Indeed, Tunisia have boasted a massive 73% of possession, as well as registering nine shots in total, though only two were on target.

Panama, meanwhile, have had just 27% of possession, and five shots in total, with one of those on target, and crucially, Los Canaleros boast the effort that bundled into the back of the net.

Our game has the only goal of the evening as it remains goalless between England and Belgium in Kaliningrad, a game featuring two heavily changed starting XIs and the Red Devils fans cheering their own team's bookings.

Sounds bizarre, but with both teams level in terms of points, goals scored and goals conceded, first and second will currently be decided on booking points, and second place in the group will book a tie against Colombia in the last 16 in what is seen as the 'easier' tournament route.

Not long now until we're back underway in Saransk... can Panama hang on to their lead and record a first ever World Cup win, or is there more to come from Tunisia? Sports Mole is on hand to bring you the action as it happens!

The players are back out on the pitch and we have reports of substitutions...

KICKOFF: We're now back underway and there is a substitution apiece as Harold Cummings is on for Gabriel Torres in the Panama setup, while Anice Badri replaces Ferjani Sassi for Tunisia.

A fairly slow start in this half, with the Panamanians currently on the attack, while in the other game, Belgium have taken the lead through Adnan Januzaj, putting the Red Devils top of the group.

GOAL! PANAMA 1-1 TUNISIA (FAKHREDINE BEN YOUSSEF)

Tunisia have been on the front foot for much of the game and they're now level! Sliti picks out Khazri on the right-hand side, the ball is then whipped across the face of goal and Ben Youssef turns home for his first ever international goal!

CHANCE! So close to a quick second for Ben Youssef as Khazri tees the goalscorer up, but the ensuing effort is straight at Penedo!

SUBSTITUTION: We've just had a break in play as Torres was clattered in the build-up to the Ben Youssef chance, and the Panama captain cannot continue, with Luis Tejada coming on in his place and taking the armband too.

Escobar concedes a corner which Khazri delivers from the left but Penedo punches clear and Sliti cannot follow up.

The match clock ticks over the hour mark and Tunisia are on the up, winning several more corners and piling yet more pressure, but they can't make anything of their chances.

Tunisia continue to maraud forward as Sliti feeds Khazri wide on the right, the Sunderland man makes his way into the box and has a pop but Penedo makes the save.



GOAL! PANAMA 1-2 TUNISIA (WAHBI KHAZRI)

Lo and behold, there is number 2,501 as Khazri edges Tunisia in front! Sliti and Haddadi combine down the left before the latter whips the ball across the face of goal and into the path of the Sunderland man, who is left with a simple tap-in to seal the comeback from a goal down!

Tunisia are now on course for their first World Cup win in 40 years, while Panama's resistance looks to have given way, and I'd be surprised if they found a way back into the game.

Khazri has also made a little more history for his country tonight, becoming the first ever Tunisian player to score two goals at the World Cup.

Panama now launch an attack as Rodriguez turns and shoots, but it is straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.

BOOKING: Badri is shown as yellow for pulling Barcenas's shirt on the right wing.

DISALLOWED GOAL! Barcenas finds the back of the net with a superb curling effort from range, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on Meriah by Tejada.

SUBSTITUTION: A change for Tunisia as Naim Sliti is replaced by Ahmed Khalil.

Panama keep probing as Barcenas curls a low ball across the face of goal, but Mathlouthi gets down to claim.

BOOKING: Panama now find themselves with a player in the book, Avila cautioned for stamping on Ben Youssef's foot.

BOOKING: Another Panama player cautioned as Gomez is sanctioned for a foul on Chaaleli.

SUBSTITUTION: Panama now make a change, with Ricardo Avila replaced by Abdiel Arroyo.

Tunisia fashion another opening, with Khazri bearing down on goal, but Cummings is there to block his path.

Time running out in this game as Panama remain a goal down, and there is a little bit of a frank discussion between Tunisia's Nagguez and Canaleros manager Hernan Dario Gomez on the touchline during a throw-in, the referee stepping in to calm things down a tad.

The game appears to be petering out as Tunisia, content with their advantage, confidently pass the ball around, running the clock down and leaving all the running to Panama.

SUBSTITUTION: The final change of the night for Tunisia as Khazri makes way for Srarfi.

CHANCE! Agonisingly close to an equaliser for Panama, Ovalle whipping a ball across the face of goal which Arroyo tries to flick inside the near post but he cannot connect and the chance eventually goes amiss!

Five minutes of stoppage time in this game, while over in Kaliningrad, it's finished England 0-1 Belgium, the Three Lions finishing second in Group G and meeting Colombia in the last 16 of the tournament in the 'easy' route.

BOOKING: A late yellow card for Chaalali for a foul on Godoy.

A handball by Khalil gives Panama one more chance to fire home an equaliser, 30 yards from goal, but Barcenas's free kick is straight at the keeper.

FULL TIME: PANAMA 1-2 TUNISIA

That's full time in Saransk and Tunisia end their World Cup campaign on a high, coming from behind to beat a plucky but ultimately outclassed Panama side 2-1 for the Carthage Eagles' first victory in the tournament since 1978!

So that's a wrap for Group G and for the World Cup round-robin stage! But don't go anywhere - Sports Mole is on hand to bring you match reports from tonight's games, reaction from the managers and players, and all the latest news from Russia! Thanks for following and, until next time, goodbye!

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Tunisia manager Nabil Maaloul on June 1, 2018
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Tuesday's key events


DIVING
· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

ATHLETICS
· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

SAILING
· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

FOOTBALL
· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

CYCLING
· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

BOXING
· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

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