Tunisia 2 Saudi Arabia 2: Jaidi uses his head to save Tunisia in thrilling endgame

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The Independent Football

An injury-time header from Radhi Jaidi earned Tunisia a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia after a thrilling finish to their Group H opener yesterday.

The Saudi substitute Sami Al Jaber scored in the 84th minute to put his side 2-1 ahead and seemingly on their way to a comeback win. Al Jaber, who has played for the Saudis in three previous World Cups, tucked the ball home two minutes after coming on.

The Tunisians, looking to win a World Cup game for the first time since they beat Mexico, in their first appearance in 1978, led at halftime thanks to a Ziad Jaziri strike after 23 minutes. But after dominating the opening period, they lost their way and Saudi Arabia came back strongly in the second half, Yasser Al Qahtani levelling in the 57th minute.

Tunisia had dominated from the start and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after only two minutes and almost scored after eight. The Saudis produced a few counter-attacks and forced a flurry of corners, but they finally fell behind in the 23rd minute.

From an inswinging free-kick on the right, defender Redha Tuaer headed clear, but the ball rebounded off his team-mate Hamad Al Montashari and, as the ball fell in space, Jaziri volleyed it beyond the goalkeeper Mabrouk Zayed from 10 yards out.

Tunisia lost their sense of urgency after the break and paid for it when a revitalised Saudia Arabia levelled. A long ball from defence set Mohammed Noor free on the right and, from his low near-post cross, Al Qahtani evaded two defenders to steer the ball in.

Goals: Jaziri 23 (1-0); Al Qahtani 57 (1-1); Al Jaber 84 (1-2), Jaidi 90 (2-2).

Tunisia: Boumnijel; Haggui, Trabelsi, Jaidi, Jemmali, Mnari, Bouazizi (Nafti, 54), Chedli (Ghodhbane, 69), Namouchi, Jaziri, Chikhaoui (Essediri, 82). Substitutes not used: Ayari, Ben Saada, Gmamdia, Kasraoui, Melliti, Nefzi, Saidi, Santos, Yahia.

Booked: Haggui, Bouazizi, Chedli, Chikhaoui.

Saudi Arabia: Zyed; Dokhi, Tukar, Al Montashari, Sulimani, Al Ghamdi, Noor (Ameen, 75), Khariri, Aziz, Al Temyat (Mouath, 66), Al Qahtani (Al Jaber, 82). Substitutes not used: Al Anbar, Al Bahri, Al Daeyea, Al Harthi, Al Qadi, Al Shlhoub, Khathran, Khojah, Massad.

Attendance: 66,000.

Referee: M Shield (Australia).