France v Australia Result and Match Report: WC 2018: Group C clash – June 16, 2018
France v Australia Result: FRANCE 2, AUSTRALIA 1
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France won a hard fought match against Australia in their opening Group C encounter 2-1 at Sochi. The match created history when the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology was used for the first time in a World Cup.
Antione Griezmann was foiled from taking a shot at the goal from a Paul Pogba through ball by a nick at the ankles from Australian defender Josh Risdon, something the Uruguayan referee failed to notice and waved for the play to go on. This invited a VAR which overturned the referee's original decision and hence a penalty was awarded to France.
Griezmann cooly converted it in the 55th minute to give Les Blues a 1-0 lead. The Socceroos drew level when French and Barcelona defender, Samuel Umtiti, inexplicably tried to stop a high Aaron Mooy cross with his fingertips having failed to do so with a header and gifted the opposition with a penalty. Mile Jedinak fired a low shot to Hugo Lloris's left to make it 1-1.
Earlier, the French started in splendid fashion with three shots on the goal inside just 8 minutes of play. Some frenetic defending by center-backs Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury helped keep the rampaging Kylian Mbappe, Dembele, Paul Pogba and Griezmann at bay for most of the match and just when it looked that the Aussies would force a draw, Pogba produced a goal out of the blue. Pogba toe-poked a looping ball over a couple of onrushing defenders and over Australian goal-keeper Matthew Ryan to give France that vital 2-1 lead. Again technology came into play as Pogba's shot hit the cross-bar and bounced off just an inch beyond the goal-line.
Pogba could have had a hand in a third goal, but along with substitute Nabil Fekir messed up a goal-mouth chance created from a Kante-Mbappe move.
Australia made a last minute attempt to salvage things in injury time when Risdon made a valiant dash down the right flank and came close to the French box but his cross to a waiting Mooy was shoddy.
Olivier Giroud was introduced late in the 70th minute in place of Griezmann with a view to breaking the 1-1 deadlock, but the veteran French striker had very little to do with Pogba settling the issue for France in the 80th minute.
A relieved Didier Deschamps will now prepare his boys for his next Group C game against Peru at Ekaterinburg. With 3 points in the bag, Les Blues will feel confident of moving into the next round needing just a win from their coming two outings. Meanwhile Australia will be in search of their first point of the 2018 cup when they come up against Denmark on June 21st at Samara.
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