Tunisia upset champions France but fail to qualify
As France searched for a late equalizer, the players on Tunisia's bench were watching another World Cup match on TV hoping for a goal.
Neither of them came, giving Tunisia a momentous 1-0 win over defending champion France that still wasn't enough to prevent the north African team from being eliminated.
Wahbi Khazri scored in the 58th minute Wednesday to lead Tunisia to only its third victory at a World Cup tournament. But in stoppage time, the Tunisians on the sidelines were more interested in the other Group D game, crowding around a TV screen on the bench hoping Denmark would be able to score against Australia — a circumstance that would have lifted Tunisia into second place and also into the round of 16 in Qatar.
"We were praying for a Denmark goal but it never game," Khazri said. "But that's the thing with soccer, you should only count on yourself. We didn't do enough in the first two games, otherwise we'd be through."
France ended up winning the group with six points, ahead of Australia on goal difference. Tunisia finished with four points in third place. Denmark, which lost to Australia 1-0, ended up in last place with one point.
It was France's first loss at the World Cup since the 2014 quarterfinals, when Germany beat the team 1-0.
Khazri broke the deadlock early in the second half, running at the heart of the French defense and beating two players before poking the ball into the bottom corner.
He fell to his knees in celebration and was mobbed by teammates. When he got back up, he made a heart shape to the Tunisian fans behind the goal and then limped off, appearing to hurt himself as he fell when scoring his 25th international goal and his third at World Cups.
France forward Antoine Griezmann thought he had evened the score in the eighth minute of stoppage time but he was ruled offside following a video review.
A few minutes after Khazri's goal, a man ran onto the field at Education City Stadium with what appeared to be a Palestinian flag. He did some acrobatic jumps before six security officials dragged him off.
With France already qualified for the knockout stage, coach Didier Deschamps rested Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and most of his regular starters. Only four of the team lining up at the beginning had even started a World Cup match before.
"It will be a good lesson for them. Now they know what the highest level is all about, against a Tunisia team that was supercharged," Deschamps said. "But we were too timid, late in the tackle and made technical errors."
Deschamps defended his decision further, saying his team's sizeable goal difference over Australia was enough of a safety net.
"We didn't need one point," he said. "Unless something catastrophic happened (in the other game)."
Khazri said he didn't believe France was disrespecting Tunisia by fielding such a weakened team.