Libya’s first match at home in close to seven years ended in defeat as they lost 5-2 to Tunisia at the Martyrs of Benina Stadium to see their hopes of fighting for qualification to next year’s Total Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON] come to an end.
The Libyans went ahead through Muad Ellafi, but the Tunisians, who had already qualified for Cameroon heading into the penultimate round of group matches, responded through Yassine Meriah
Substitute Seifeddine Jaziri would score a double in the second half with Mohamed Drager and Anis Slimane scoring one a piece for the Carthage Eagles.
The Libyans had a good start to the match and went ahead after 21 minutes when Ellafi rose highest inside the box to bounce a header off Mohamed Aleyat’s cross.
They would have made it 2-0 in the 34th minute but Tunisia defender Meriah cleared off the line after keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha had seen Hamdou Elhouni’s shot slip through his fingers.
On the other end, Meriah became a hero once again in the space of four minutes when he drew his side level after controlling Drager’s cross from the left and volleying it over the advancing keeper.
Libya looked to crumble in the second half and three minutes in, they were 2-1 down when Jaziri headed home from inside the box barely two minutes after coming on. In the 50th minute, they were 3-1 up when Drager slid the ball through the keeper’s legs after a quick counter which saw Saif Edine Khaoui set him up.
The Libyans responded four minutes later when Ellafi scored his second with a calm lob over the keeper after controlling a cross from the left on his chest.
The home side smelt a comeback and hoped to get themselves back into the game. Motassem Masoud had a header saved by Ben Mustapha while Muatez Husayn also saw his shot from distance turned behind by the keeper.
With those misses, they were punished with Slimane’s well taken shot from distance making it four before Jaziri completed his brace in added time.