Worst team at World Cup? Proud Panama demand respect

Worst team at World Cup? Proud Panama demand respect

Worst team at World Cup? Proud Panama demand respect

Proud Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez reacted angrily to a suggestion his World Cup debutants were the "worst team" in Russian Federation, insisting the 55th-ranked Central Americans had competed valiantly despite big disadvantages.

In the end it was Tunisia who avoided last place in Group G with their first World Cup win since 1978 but Panama exit Russian Federation on the back of a spirited performance befitting of football's grandest stage.

Tunisia's Yassine Meriah's own goal was the 50th in World Cup history.

The Tunisians beat Panama 2-1 on Thursday on the final day of group stage action, leaving the Central Americans still searching for their first ever win in the competition.

33' - GOAL! Panama 1-0 Tunisia Romero Torres tees up Rodriguez for a shot and he lets fly with a first-time effort from 25 yards, the ball takes a wicked deflection, spinning away into the bottom corner and wrong-footing the goalkeeper.

Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef ensured their nation's World Cup slump wouldn't enter a fifth decade.

Panama took the lead in the 33rd minute of the meeting through an own goal credited to Yassine Meriah after Jose Luis Rodriguez's shot failed to hit the target.

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It was not enough to keep them in the tournament, defeats to England and Belgium having already sealed Tunisia's Group G fate.

The North African side ensured they won't leave Russian Federation 2018 empty-handed but they were forced to overcome a Panama side who came close to recording their first ever World Cup win. Laurent finished well from the edge of the penalty area to write his name into the history books, with France going on to win the game 4-1.

"We were much more level in this match than in others", said Gomez, who insists Panama have learned massively from the experience in Russian Federation and will have a bright future.

Maaloul praised his team's fight in their first match with England, where Tunisia defended heroically before being undone by a late Harry Kane strike, but conceded that their performance against Belgium was considerably poorer.

"We were much more level in this match than in others", he said.

"We should have been more defensive against Belgium".

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