World Cup LIVEBLOG: Tunisia v Belgium [ENDED]

World Cup LIVEBLOG: Tunisia v Belgium [ENDED]
Live blog: With seven defeats for the Arab teams in the World Cup so far, there is pressure on Tunisia to restore 'Arab pride' by beating Belgium. Will they deliver?
5 min read
20 June, 2018
2:56:20: Tunisia scores during extra time! Begium 5, Tunisia 2. Won't change the final result but Tunisia's humiliation is less painful.

The game is now over. The Arab football defeats are not over. That's the end of our live coverage. 

2:43:40: Belgium just missed a double chance to score its fifth goal against Tunisia, with the goal post in for the save in the first time, and Mustapha in the second. Tunisian fans don't have much reason to be happy.

The slow kiss goodbye [AFP]

2:19:44: The head coach of Tunisia's football team has responded after facing criticism for reading Quranic verses with players before a game at the World Cup in Russia. "I have one thing to say in regards to the criticism… anyone who has attacked me for reading the fatiha needs to seek medical treatment for themselves," Maaloul said, referring to the first chapter of the Islamic holy book.
2:14:10: Hazard scores a second goal, after Lukaku's duo. Belgium 4, Tunisia 1. Arab football fans are in tears 

2:09:00: Second half begins. A corner for Belgium leads to a shot at the goal but nothing comes out of it. A Belgian goal now would turn Tunisia's remaining hopes into a foul tasting harissa

C'est pas ma faute...young Belgian supporter [AFP]
1:49:59: Belgium scores in the last minute of the first half. Lukaku very proud of himself. And we're at half time now
1:46:42: We're very close to half time. Several injuries mean we have four minutes extra time. The game has slowed down in pace but four minutes is a very long time in football...

1:28:15: Earlier, Reuters reported: if Tunisia lose, and England beat Panama Sunday, they will be eliminated, while a draw would leave the Tunisians needing to beat Panama and hoping that Belgium lose to England in the final group games.

Meanwhile, liveblogging this game be like:

1:24:01: Oh no! Evil eye? Bronn injured (left knee) and taken out of the pitch. He will probably miss the rest of the game.  

1:21:12: Dylan Bronn scored that goal. Bronn incidentally (ironically plays in the Belgian Pro League). First international goal!

1:18:45: Aaand Gooaaaal for Tunisia. Belgium 2, Tunisia 1. VAR check shows no offside. Yalla Tunisia! 

1:17:00: 2-0 Belgium! Lukaku scores while Tunisian defence absolutely absent.

1:13:24- Hazard just made another attempt at the goal. Goalkeeper this time catches it. Would have been bullet of mercy for Nabil Maaloul's hopes.

1:09:23- The penalty was scored by Hazard. Goalkeeper didn't budge. Tunisia still haunted by Arab curse of defeat. Some joke FIFA = Football is not for Arabs. We disagree but fate not doing much to prove the bad jokers otherwise.

1:07:01- The American referee gives Belgium a penalty! Oh No! First goal for Belgium (1), Tunisia 0! 

1:06:12 - The American referee gives a penalty! Oh No! Things look bad for Tunisia

1:03:15 - The game has started. Belgium has just made a feeble attempt at the goal. Tunisia trying to avoid the mistakes that led to Englad's victory. Here's a line up from FIFA

12:58:38 - We've heard the national anthems of both teams. Tunisia lineup includes Farouk Ben Mustapha. We're seconds away from kick off!
12:48:00 - As we wait for kick off, here's a quick look at the Tunisian team, courtesy of The New Arab's football correspondent Uri Levy

Nickname: The Carthage Eagles

Coach: Nabil Maaloul

Star: Wahbi Khazri

Arriving to Russia as:
 Limited by injury, but determined

Expectations: None. To enjoy the experience while perhaps hoping to sting a European giant.

Tunisia is a special country. The country where the Arab Spring first erupted, the largest exporter of Islamic State group militants, and the only country in the recent series of Middle Eastern revolution to end up with something resembling a functioning democracy. 

And yes, it is a football-holic nation.

With a great club culture in the domestic league, the Tunisian national team will enjoy great support in Russia. The squad is the world's highest-ranked Arab team at the moment - 21st in the most recent FIFA rankings.

Despite winning the Africa Cup of Nations only once, Tunisia is counted as a solidly African team. But hopes for achieving something in the tournament took a serious hit after both the Eagles' superstars, Youssef Msakni and Taha Khneissi, were injured in their clubs' final matches of the season. 

This has left the Carthage Eagles dependent on Wahbi Khazri as the main man - but has also made room for promising talents as Naim Sliti and Said Eddine Khaoui to ply their trade on the world's biggest stage.

Qualification for the final 16 is an unlikely dream, but a near loss to Belgium, a heroic tie with England and a hammering victory against a weak Panama would count as a major success for the Tunisians.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab, Saudi Arabia), Moez Hassen (Chateauroux, France), Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Baten, Saudi Arabia)

Defenders: Rami Bedoui (Etoile du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City, England), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa, Turkey), Dylan Bronn (Gent, Belgium), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon, France), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly, Egypt), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek, Egypt)

Midfielders: Anice Badri (Esperance), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Al Ahli Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Ghaylene Chaalali (Esperance), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Saifeddine Khaoui (Troyes, France), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr, Saudi Arabia), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier, France), Naim Sliti (Dijon, France), Bassem Srarfi (Nice, France)

Forwards: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ittifaq, Saudi Arabia), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Wahbi Khazri (Rennes, France).

12:40:00 - 20 minutes to kick off a crucial game for Tunisia, the last hope for Arab teams in the World Cup to break the curse of defeat as no Arab team has yet managed to win or even draw. Tunisia faces a formidable challenge with Belgium, but coach Nabil Maaloul has said his team will be ready.