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Jaidi's injury-time strike breaks Saudi Arabian hearts

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Tunisia has not won a World Cup finals match since its debut in 1978Saudi Arabia has not won since its debut in USA 1994 Tunisia 'keeper Ali Boumnijel is the tournament's oldest player at 40 years and 62 days

MUNICH: Defender Radhi Jaidi headed an injury-time equaliser on Wednesday as Tunisia scrambled a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia which left both teams waiting for an elusive World Cup win.

After a defensive mix-up, forward Zied Jaziri put a high ball into the six-yard box, which Jaidi nodded home.

It was relief for Tunisia, which had led for nearly an hour before Saudi Arabia equalised and then went ahead through veteran striker Sami al-Jaber in the 84th minute.

Tunisia has not won a World Cup finals match since its debut in 1978, and Saudi Arabia has not won since its debut in USA 1994.

The North Africans led after a dour first half, but the game came alive on 57 minutes when Saudi Arabia equalised with the move of the match.

Defender Ahmed Dokhi played a peach of a ball down the right channel for Mohammed Noor, whose early cross fell perfectly for Yasser al-Qahtani who scampered clear of two defenders and buried it first time.

Saudi Arabia made changes as it pressed for a win, with midfielder Nawaf al-Temyat coming off for forward Malek al-Hawsawi, Noor making way for Mohammed Ameen and Qahtani being replaced by Jaber.

And al-Jaber, who has now played in four World Cups, made an immediate impact as he was put clear by Hawsawi, calmly sliding a left-footed finish past Tunisia 'keeper Ali Boumnijel a fellow veteran and the tournament's oldest player at 40 years and 62 days.

Al-Jaber, who came on as a substitute in the 82nd minute, has now scored in three World Cups. He also scored in 1994 and 1998, but failed to find the net in 2002.

However, the Saudis were not able to hold on to their lead and Jaidi equalised in the second minute of injury time.

The North Africans had gone ahead in the 23rd minute after captain Riadh Bouazizi was fouled in front of the Saudi box.

Saudi defender Redha Tukar headed on the resulting free-kick Jaziri on hand to ram the loose ball home with an acrobatic volley.

Tunisia was worth its lead with clear-cut chances few and far between for the Saudis, despite winning a number of corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions.

Tukar curled one free-kick over the wall but it was a simple stop for Boumnijel, and Saudi forward Qahtani could also have done better with a high ball which he headed wide.

Saudi Arabia also survived an early penalty appeal when Jaziri went down under a challenge by Tukar. The Saudis won a string of free kicks and corners, and Tunisia's 40-year-old goalkeeper had to dive sharply to stop a free kick from Redha Tukar in the 37th that was curling toward the left post.

Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre said he was disappointed that his team had not been able to hold on to the lead.

``We don't feel like we have opened the door,'' Lemerre said. ``We weren't very assured. While the first goal gave us a boost, it was not enough.'' AP

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