France 2-1 Australia: VAR to the fore as Paul Pogba decides World Cup Group C clash
Last Updated: 17/06/18 12:28pm
France stuttered to a 2-1 win over Australia in their opening Group C World Cup clash as the use of video technology came to the fore for the first time in the tournament.
France were awarded a penalty when VAR helped overrule the referee's original decision for a challenge on Antoine Griezmann by Josh Risdon inside the area, from which Griezmann fired home (58).
However, Samuel Umtiti inexplicably handled inside the area and Mile Jedinak converted from the penalty spot (62) to level the scores.
France struggled to break down Australia's stern defence but gained a huge slice of luck when Paul Pogba's deflected effort looped over Mat Ryan and bounced off the underside of the crossbar with goal-line technology confirming the ball had crossed the line for an own goal.
France: Lloris (7), Pavard (4), Varane (6), Umtiti (4), Hernandez (5), Kante (7), Pogba (6), Tolisso (4), Mbappe (6), Griezmann (6), Dembele (5)
Subs: Giroud (6), Fekir (6), Matuidi (6)
Australia: Ryan (7), Risdon (6), Milligan (7), Sainsbury (7), Behich (7), Jedinak (7), Mooy (7), Kruse (6), Leckie (6), Rogic (6), Nabbout (6).
Subs: Irvine (6), Juric (6), Arzani (6)
Man of the match: Aaron Mooy
It was a very underwhelming performance by one of the pre-tournament favourites as, apart from the opening eight minutes, France only managed two shots on target, both of which went in.
They began with intent and Australia goalkeeper Ryan was kept busy inside the opening minutes but stood strong.
The Socceroos then almost opened the scoring when Hugo Lloris reacted quickly to prevent Corentin Tolisso scoring an own goal.
France went into their shell and struggled to create opportunities before they were presented with a perfect chance to break the deadlock after the break, courtesy of video technology.
The referee initially played on following Risdon's challenge on Griezmann before pointing to the penalty spot after being given advice from VAR and watching the replay himself on the pitchside screen.
Griezmann seized the opportunity, smashing the ball into the top corner.
Australia were level four minutes later when Umtiti inexplicably handled a free-kick in the box, allowing Jedinak to calmly roll home.
Despite bringing on Olivier Giroud, France rarely looked capable of breaking down their opponents but there was another unfortunate moment for Australia to come nine minutes from time.
Aziz Behich's challenge of Pogba was strong and well-timed but the ball looped over Ryan and narrowly crossed the line having bounced down off the underside of the crossbar.
Job done for France but improvement will be required.
- France have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last seven international games, against Republic of Ireland in May.
- All four of Australian Ryan's saves vs France came in the opening eight minutes, with the keeper conceding the next two shots on target faced.
- The two penalties scored in the game between France and Australia were only four minutes, seven seconds apart - the shortest period of time between two penalties being scored by different sides in a World Cup match.
- France are unbeaten in the 18 games that Griezmann has scored in (W16 D2 L0).
- Griezmann has been directly involved in nine of France's last 13 goals in major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships), with seven goals and two assists.
- At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe is the youngest player to make an appearance at a major tournament for France (World Cup and European Championships).
- It was a very underwhelming performance by one of the pre-tournament favourites as apart from the opening eight minutes, France only managed two shots on target, both of which went in.
Man of the match: Aaron Mooy
It was difficult to be impressed with any of the French players, who looked uncomfortable and restricted for their national team. One man that looked right at home was Huddersfield's Mooy, who was everywhere for the Aussies and showed great awareness and skill when in possession.
France coach Didier Deschamps: "It was not easy, but winning the first match is very important. It was complicated today with a team who gave us a hard time. It's hard to explain everything. We missed a change of pace, a little juice."
Australia coach Bert van Marwijk: "I hoped that maybe one time there would be a very honest referee, and in that moment, that he wouldn't go to the video screen. I saw him standing there. The body language was that he didn't know, from my position. And then you have to take a decision - France or Australia. I got a lot of reactions, let's say that out of 10 people seven said it was a penalty and three said no penalty."
Australia play Denmark on Thursday at 1pm while France can qualify for the knockout stages with a win over Peru also on Thursday at 4pm.