European champions Russia suffered their second straight defeat at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013, again failing to score in a 1-0 loss to Tunisia. The north Africans are through to the Round of 16 (thanks in part to Japan's win in the section's other game) after the impressive result, which came courtesy of a Maher Gabsi goal.
The Russians started strongly in the first half and had a very good chance to score after only seven minutes. Alexandr Zuev crossed well for Ilmir Nurisov, who was surprised by the ball and made a hash of his header. One minute later, Nurisov took advantage of some slack Tunisian defending but was denied by the goalkeeper.
Russian pressure continued unabated and, after 13 minutes, Ramil Sheidaev had a chance that was well saved by Sabri Ben Hessen. And five minutes after that, Nurisov was off to the races again, but he was unable to finish. The Russian team seemed tense as they hunted their first goal of the finals.
Tunisia were playing well in spurts and they had a pair of chances before the half, but Khalil Hnid’s shot flew wide and Nidhal Ben Salem couldn’t keep his effort down after racing to meet up with a precise through-ball from midfield.
There was continued desperation to the Russian attacks at the start of the second-half. Able to get around the Tunisians on the flanks, the dangerous crosses were being whipped in one after the other. But they were nearly caught on a fast break at the other end when, on the hour mark, Hazem Haj Hassen broke clean in on Anton Mitryushkin’s goal only to be denied by the giant keeper.
Maher Gabsi made no such mistake seconds later when he collected a long ball well on his chest and broke into the penalty area. Looking up to asses his options, he chose to slide the ball under the advancing keeper and into the side netting. The goal seemed to have a demoralising effect on Russia, who continued to press, but without concrete results.
In their third and final Group D game, the Russians meet Venezuela in Fujairah while Tunisia, who are through to the knockout stages after two wins, take on Japan in Sharjah.