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Match 46
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Tactics: How can Tunisia beat Panama?

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Tunisia pick up first World Cup win in 40 years as Panama fall

Tunisia ended their disappointing World Cup campaign on a high note as they dispatched Panama 2-1 in Saransk on Thursday to win their first game in the tournament since 1978.

It was an underwhelming showing by Tunisia, but they at least gave a good account of themselves in the second half after falling behind.

Positives

Despite the toil of those around him, Wahbi Khazri has boosted his reputation during this tournament.

He didn't make his name as a striker, but excelled again while leading the line here, and has been one of Africa's stand-out players in Russia.

Negatives

While Tunisia sought to dominate their opponents early on, they suffered an almighty scare when they fell behind.

With their finishing so poor during the first half, there were fears that their ignominious World Cup may get even worse.

Manager rating (out of 10):

6 - Nabil Maaloul opted to rotate his squad, and the game ended with all 23 members of the Tunisian squad seeing some action.

The new faces largely impressed, with Oussama Haddadi and Ghaaylen Chaalali, in particular, doing enough to suggest that they should have featured earlier.

His attacking approach was the only way to go against this limited Panama side, and Tunisia eventually got over the line after a few nervy moments.

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Aymen Mathlouthi, 6 - Finally got the chance to feature at the World Cup after being usurped to date in this competition. He fumbled a second-half cross, but did make a fine save later on to deny Panama.

DF Hamdi Nagguez, 6 - Restored to the starting XI following Dylan Bronn's injury, he delivered a competent and lively display, but his crossing was sub-par.

DF Rami Bedoui, 7 - An excellent display in the air by Bedoui, who's not got much of a look-in during this tournament, as he won seven aerial battles during the contest.

DF Yassine Meriah, 6 - His day was marred by an own goal, but Meriah was still a key presence in the air at the back for the Tunisians and the Eagles regularly built their play through him.

DF Oussama Haddadi, 8 - Named ahead of Ali Maaloul, who struggled against Belgium, Haddadi demonstrated that he's perhaps ready to replace the team stalwart with a fine display.

He created three goalscoring chances, contributed the assist for Khazri's goal, and made a series of key interceptions.

MF Ellyes Skhiri, 6 - A decent presence in midfield, winning headers and seeing a lot of the ball, but there are still many who can't exactly see why Skhiri has earned such unswerving faith from Maaloul.

MF Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, 7 - Got the goal that his endeavour at this tournament has deserved, although his control was lacking on a few occasions.

MF Ghaylen Chaalali, 7 - Finally got the chance to show what he can do in the World Cup, and didn't disappoint. Was influential in the heart of the park for Tunisia, winning six tackles and seeing a lot of the ball.

MF Ferjani Sassi, 5 - Not his best day, again, and he was replaced at the break after a tenacious, frustrated display in which he picked up a booking.

Too often sought to go long when, against such feeble opponents, a subtler approach might have been more effective.

MF Naim Sliti, 6 - His finishing, yet again, let him down at times, although Sliti did prove - on the odd occasion that he ran at the Panamanian defence - that he's magic with the ball at his feet.

FW Wahbi Khazri, 8 - For the second game in a row, he scored one and assisted another, demonstrating the kind of finishing touch and quality of delivery that few of Africa's other teams could match.

He created four goalscoring chances overall.

Substitutes

MF Anice Badri, 6 - Didn't offer too much after replacing Sassi at the break, although his passing was largely accurate.

FW Ahmed Khalil, N/R

FW Bassem Srarfi, N/R

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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