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Lively Tunisia holds Denmark to draw in World Cup Group D opener

AL RAYYAN, Qatar: Substitute Andreas Cornelius hit the post and Denmark had a late penalty appeal turned down, while Tunisia wasted two clear chances in a 0-0 draw in their World Cup Group D opener at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.

Tunisia was roared on by their sizeable following in the 42,925 crowd, whose deafening whistles and roars gave energy to their side and helped secure what had seemed an unlikely point before kickoff, despite the fact they are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 internationals.

Denmark thought it should have had a penalty in stoppage time for handball that was checked at the VAR screen by referee Cesar Arturo Ramos, but he instead gave a free kick to Tunisia.

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Usually when a referee moves to the monitor to review a decision, he changes his mind, but Mexican Ramos stuck to his guns at a crucial moment in the game.

Tunisia played with a tempo they will find hard to maintain through the group stages but were good value for their point and showed a resilience that was pleasing for coach Jalel Kadri.

Denmark would have hoped to create more chances, but their best came late in the second half when Cornelius only had to nod the ball over the line at the back post, but instead flicked it onto the woodwork.

Tunisia, who this week had spoken of their pride at qualifying for World Cup in an Arab country, were fired up from the first whistle, celebrating each tackle like a goal, and had two excellent chances to open the scoring.

The first fell to Denmark-based Issam Jebali when he found himself one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel, but could not beat the Danish goalkeeper, who made an excellent, instinctive save.

The second saw Aissa Laidouni race clear from his own half, but as he approached the Denmark penalty area, he hesitated and opted for a pass that was not on rather than advancing another 10 yards and having an effort on goal.

In the context of the match, both might look at it as two points dropped, but Tunisia will certainly be the happier given the low level of expectation place on them – from outside their camp at least – going into the tournament.

They will face Australia next on Saturday, a game they will have targeted as their most winnable in the group, while Denmark meet defending champions France behind the points tally they would have set themselves at this stage.

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