Tunisia survived a first half scare to edge World Cup debutants Panama and earn a third-place consolation following earlier defeats to England and Belgium that eliminated them from the tournament with a game to spare.
After Yassine Meriah deflected the ball into his own net to hand the Central Americans the lead, Ben Youssef led the comeback with the equaliser before Wahbi Khazri completed Tunisia’s first World Cup win since 1978.
Ben Youssef’s strike was the 2500 goal in World Cup history and with his side having to wait for four decades to notch a win at the tournament, the striker naturally could not hide his joy.
“We managed to redeem ourselves after two defeats. Tonight was not easy… It is a historic victory, a great day for Tunisia, although we clearly did not gain the results we wanted to,” Ben Youssef said.
“We had to face two tough opponents, two of the best teams in Europe, which we lost, but today we were able to make up for that.
“It was not an easy match. We wanted to snatch this victory, and I wanted to score, and I did. This is a great day for Tunisia.”
The victory didn't mask Tunisia’s World Cup flaws. African teams now shift focus to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which proceed in September, having been postponed to allow the continent’s World Cup representatives to fully focus on Russia 2018.