As will be the case with many World Cup games throughout the next few weeks, one team was expected to steamroll over the other in this encounter – and it didn’t happen. While France wound up securing the 2-1 victory over Australia, the Aussies put up more of a fight than anyone could’ve anticipated as Les Bleus failed to inspire during the early kick-off of a hectic four-game schedule today.
This was expected to be a showcase game for the French, who are considered to be one of the favourites to lift the trophy in Moscow next month. Alas, it was anything but, and the first half served as a reminder that you can never judge a book by it’s cover on the world stage. Australia were maintaining possession well, meanwhile, France just didn’t seem to have many ideas going forward, and as the half went on, the underdogs actually showed signs of life as opposed to parking the bus which is what many pundits were anticipating.
The best effort of the first 45 minutes fell to Australia as a dipping free-kick deflected off of a French defender, only for Hugo Lloris to come to the rescue with a nice save. In the early stages of the second half, we saw much of the same from both teams, with many wondering whether or not we’d see a fourth straight late goal as we did during all three of yesterday’s games.
However, it wouldn’t take as long as we were expecting as Antoine Griezmann scored the first goal of his WC campaign from the penalty spot to give France the lead. The decision was a controversial one after Josh Risdon was penalised for a foul on Griezmann, but the referee didn’t immediately give the penalty until after he consulted with the VAR system.
Still, it seemed like the right move upon a second viewing, and France looked as if they were starting to take the game by the scruff of the neck until Samuel Umtiti inexplicably threw his hand in the air during a free kick and conceded a penalty as a result. Mile Jedinak casually tucked the ball away to the delight of the thousands upon thousands of Socceroos fans who had made the trip to Kazan.
But the fairytale ending was ruined with less than ten minutes to go, as Paul Pogba’s effort clipped Aziz Behich and bounced over the goal line to ensure that France would be registering their first three points of the tournament.
Didier Deschamps’ team will need to improve immensely if they want to see off the challenges of Peru and Denmark, who will play each other later today. Their next game will be against the Peruvians on Thursday, whereas Australia will face Denmark a few hours prior.
France: Lloris (6.5), Pavard (5.5), Varane (6), Umtiti (5), Hernandez (5.5), Pogba (7), Tolisso (5), Kante (6), Griezmann (7), Mbappe (6), Dembele (5.5), Giroud (N/A), Fekir (N/A), Matuidi (N/A)
Australia: Ryan (6), Milligan (6.5), Behich (5.5), Risdon (5), Sainsbury (6.5), Mooy (8), Jedinak (7.5), Rogic (5.5), Leckie (6), Kruse (5.5), Nabbout (6), Juric (N/A), Irvine (N/A), Arzani (N/A)
Referee: Andrés Cunha
Goals: Griezmann pen, Pogba :: Jedinak pen
Yellow Cards: Tolisso, Risdon, Behich, Leckie
Red Cards: N/A
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