Two Reds go out while France lose

Wednesday 30 November 2022 17:20

Christian Eriksen's Denmark and Hannibal's Tunisia have bowed out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Australia qualify in second spot, behind Group D winners France, after a gritty 1-0 win over the Danes, with Les Bleus making nine changes and losing to Tunisia by the same scoreline, as substitute Antoine Griezmann had an injury-time equaliser ruled out for offside after a lengthy delay.

By then, the north Africans were going home in any case, as the Socceroos had completed their victory to reach the knockout stages for only the second time.

Eriksen proudly wore the armband and probed throughout for Denmark but the highly fancied Scandinavians could find no way through the resolute Australia rearguard.

Displaying his usual fine array of passing, the Reds star attempted to pick holes in the opposition defence and dragged one shot wide in the first half. He also sent in a corner that Andreas Cornelius headed over deep into stoppage time.

However, a strike by Mathew Leckie proved enough to take all three points, as the Melbourne City man finished clinically past Kasper Schmeichel on the hour-mark.

The goal, that was celebrated wildly Down Under, came a matter of seconds after the Socceroos had slipped into third place in the group, with Tunisia taking the lead against France.

Although a surprise, it was just reward for the Carthage Eagles' efforts from the outset, as they troubled the under-strength holders and had an early goal disallowed for offside through Nader Ghandri, after he volleyed smartly past Steve Mandanda.

Wahbi Khazri, formerly of Sunderland, nudged Tunisia ahead after running through the centre of the France defence before slipping his finish wide of Mandanda and into the corner of the net.

Didier Deschamps threw on his substitutes, with Varane making way for Arsenal's William Saliba on 63 minutes, and Kylian Mbappe was close to finding an equaliser. Griezmann thought he had come up trumps in the 98th minute, when lashing in with his right foot, only for the goal to eventually be ruled out for offside after the referee consulted the TV monitor.

It meant a first group-stage defeat for Les Bleus since 2010 but they are through to a last-16 clash at the weekend against the runners-up from Group C, containing Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Hannibal did not get off the bench but Tunisia can be proud of their efforts in the tournament, and he will have gained much from the experience.