Tunisia, Saudi Arabia put on a show at World Cup
Tunisia and Saudi Arabia battled to an exciting 2-2 draw in a Group H game at the World Cup on Wednesday in Munich.
Tunisia defender Radhi Jaidi scored in injury time to tie the game and deny Saudi Arabia its first World Cup victory in 12 years.
"They weren't defensive mistakes, they were just two good Tunisian goals," Saudi Arabia coach Marcos Paqueta said. "We lost two points."
With the draw, the Tunisians became the first African country to earn a point at the tournament. The other four African nations competing at the 32-nation competition— Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo — all lost their opening games.
Saudi Arabia is now winless in its last seven games (five losses and two ties) at the World Cup and has been outscored 21-4 in a stretch that dates back to the 1998 tournament in France.
A fairly pedestrian first half had one moment of brilliant inspiration, coming in the 23rd minute when a goalmouth scramble ensued in front of the Saudi goal off a Tunisian free kick. Saudi defender Redha Takar's poor clearance fell to Ziad Jazari who hammered the ball past goalkeeper Mabrouk Zayed with an acrobatic scissors kick.
A lifeless opening 45 minutes gave way to an entertaining second half.
The Saudis threatened in the 47th minute, when Mohammad Nour broke toward Tunisia's net. But he pokedhis attempt wide of the post despite having the goalkeeper at his mercy.
Teammate Yasser Al-Qahtani made no mistake 10 minutes later. Nour burst down the right side and whipped a low cross into the box for Al-Qahtani, who slipped between two Tunisian defenders and smashed the ball home.
The goal was Saudi Arabia's first at the World Cup in eight years.
Saudi Arabia capitalized on the momentum and began to put Tunisia under more pressure but the Tunisian defence thwarted every Saudi movement forward.
The Saudis appeared to have wrapped up the game in the 84th minute, when veteran striker Sami Al-Jaber, who came into the game as a substitute two minutes earlier, scored on a breakaway.
Al-Jaber has now scored in three World Cups (1994, 1998 and 2006) after failing to find the net in 2002.
Tunisia, who did very little in the second half, fought back and earned a point when Jaidi headed a pinpoint cross from Jaziri in injury time.
Tunisia's next game is against Spain on Monday in Stuttgart, while Saudi Arabia takes on Ukraine in Hamburg.
Spain cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Ukraine earlier Wednesday in Leipzig.
Tunisia: Ziad Jaziri — The Tunisian forward bagged his 14th career goal for his country.
Saudi Arabia: Yasser Al-Qahtani — Al-Qahtani scored a great goal to tie the score and bring his team back into the game.