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France vs Australia. FIFA World Cup Group D.

Al Janoub StadiumAttendance40,875.

France 4

  • A Rabiot (27th minute)
  • O Giroud (32nd minute, 71st minute)
  • K Mbappe (68th minute)

Australia 1

  • C Goodwin (9th minute)

France 4-1 Australia: Olivier Giroud scores record-equalling goal as Kylian Mbappe helps holders shrug off early scare in World Cup Group D

Match report as goals from Adrien Rabiot, Olivier Giroud (2) and Kylian Mbappe helped France shrug off Craig Goodwin's early goal to defeat Australia 4-1 in Al Wakrah; the victory moves Didier Deschamps' reigning champions to the top of World Cup Group D

Olivier Giroud celebrates his second goal against Australia
Image: Olivier Giroud celebrates his record-equalling goal against Australia

Reigning champions France recovered from an early Australia goal to win 4-1 as they began their World Cup defence in style in Qatar.

On a day that began with one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, Didier Deschamps' side risked going the same way that Argentina had against Saudi Arabia when Craig Goodwin put Australia ahead inside the first 10 minutes of the match.

But goals from Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud put France ahead before half-time and the quality told in the second half with Kylian Mbappe emerging as the star of the show. He scored the third and then set up Giroud for the fourth with a magnificent cross.

That goal moved the 36-year-old Giroud level with Thierry Henry as France's all-time record scorer with 51 goals for the men's national team. It is a record the magnificent Mbappe will surely break one day.

Big moments in the game...

  • 9 min: Leckie crosses for Goodwin to fire Australia into a shock lead
  • 27 min: Rabiot heads in the equaliser from close range
  • 32 min: Giroud slots home after good work by Rabiot
  • 45 min: Mbappe shins his volleys over when six yards out
  • 45+2 min: Irvine heads against the post with Lloris beaten
  • 67 min: Griezmann’s fierce shot cleared off the line by Behich
  • 68 min: Mbappe heads in off the post to finally get his goal
  • 71 min: Giroud scores his 51st international goal from Mbappe’s cross

How France took it away from Australia

Australia would have known the size of their task going in but started with real composure and their goal was wonderfully worked. A brilliant switch of play by Harry Souttar set up Matthew Leckie and his cross found Goodwin who finished neatly at the far post.

Lucas Hernandez was injured in the build-up to that Australia goal, adding to the list of France casualties that might have created a sense of events conspiring against them. But his replacement, brother Theo, assisted Rabiot's equaliser and they did not look back.

Within minutes of heading his country level, the elegant midfielder turned provider, latching onto a delightful flick from Mbappe to set up Giroud. The veteran striker had the simplest of tasks to turn the ball into the net for his 50th international goal.

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Mbappe might have made it three when set up well by Antoine Griezmann but his volley was wild when six yards out and that almost proved costly when Jackson Irvine headed against the post in first-half stoppage time. Australia certainly had their moments.

But the second half saw Mbappe take over, tormenting the defence as France pushed to extend their lead. Griezmann had a shot cleared off the line but Mbappe was not to be denied - heading in off the post from Ousmane Dembele's right-wing cross.

Mbappe turned provider soon after, his cross from the other flank being headed in by Giroud. Much has been made of the players missing with current Ballon d'Or holder Karim Benzema out. But France were potent without him in 2018. They look potent now too.

Player of the match - Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring France's third goal against Australia
Image: Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring France's third goal against Australia

This was not a faultless performance, not even close to one of his best. Maybe Giroud will take the plaudits on what was a special evening for him as a result of his goals. But the outstanding player on the pitch was quite obviously the extraordinary Mbappe.

He missed from close range in the first half when it looked straightforward for him to score and he miscontrolled from similar range in the second with the goal gaping. But before, in between and after, he ran the Australia defenders ragged. Breathtaking, quite literally.

Even at just 23-years-old, Mbappe has little left to prove. He is a World Cup winner already, of course. But having matched Pele's achievement of scoring in a final as a teenager, he looks well capable of repeating the Brazilian's feat of following up by retaining the trophy.

There are rumours that his relationship with Giroud is not all it might be off the pitch. On it, he appears to have the ideal foil. France have the team to provide him with the platform. He has the talent to seize the stage. Nobody would be shocked if this is his World Cup.

What the managers said…

France head coach Didier Deschamps: "We began the match well in the first minutes, we looked good and linked up well. We let in that goal that we should have avoided. In the second half we showed a lot more confidence and forced Australia on to the back foot and then we created a lot of chances and four goals, which is good.

"It's a good beginning to the tournament. The opening match is always vital and important. I would like to congratulate the team and the players. We have seen some games earlier where teams couldn't respond, but we did even though we went behind."

Australia head coach Graham Arnold: "I think at the end of the day, the quality of the French team [was the reason for the win]. They are the previous champions for a reason. We started very well. Physically they were so much bigger, faster and stronger than us today. Overall, the boys did everything they could and that is all I can ask.

"We have built the belief and the energy and the focus in the last week since we have been in camp. The way we started, we believed. That is what we trained on - that type of goal. But we were punished by our mistakes. Their crosses were bang on target. That game is gone. It is good that the other result was a draw. Now it is about winning on Saturday. We have to get ready for it."

France's win in stats

  • France have won five consecutive games at the World Cup, their joint-longest winning run at the tournament, having also won five in a row from 1986 to 1998.
  • France were the first reigning champion to win their opening game of a World Cup tournament since Brazil in 2006.
  • France conceded the opening goal in a World Cup match for the first time since the 2014 quarter-final against Germany.
  • This was also the earliest that France have conceded at the tournament since 1982 against England when Bryan Robson scored after 27 seconds.
  • Olivier Giroud became the second-oldest player to score a brace at the World Cup, after Roger Milla, who netted twice in 1990 for Cameroon while aged 38.
  • Kylian Mbappé, who has scored 12 goals in his last 11 appearances for France, is the youngest player to reach five World Cup goals for the country.
  • Adrien Rabiot became the first player to both score and assist a goal on his World Cup debut for France since Christophe Dugarry against South Africa in 1998.

What does the result mean?

France are two points clear at the top of Group D as a result of this win with Denmark and Tunisia having drawn 0-0 earlier in the day. Australia find themselves bottom, the only team without a point.

France continue their title defence against Denmark on Saturday, kick-off 4pm, while Australia play Tunisia earlier that day at 10am.

The winners of Group D will face the runner-up from Group C, containing Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. The runner-up in Group D will face the winners of Group C.

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