Holders France came from behind to finally see off a determined Australia in their Group D opener at the Al Janoub Stadium, Olivier Giroud scoring twice to match Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals.
An injury-hit France showed early signs of susceptibility – and within nine minutes, they were behind. The move started with a superb long pass from Harry Souttar, who played in Mathew Leckie down the right. A low cross found Craig Goodwin arriving fast at the far post, and the winger rifled high past Hugo Lloris.
With Lucas Hernandez forced off in the aftermath having fallen awkwardly when challenging Leckie, his replacement Theo Hernandez was nearly caught out moments after coming on, Mitchell Duke intercepting his loose pass and sending a shot whistling just too high.
Hernandez made a more positive impact at the other end in the 27th minute, picking up possession after the Socceroos had failed to clear a corner properly and whipping in a tantalising cross from the left that was met by Adrien Rabiot’s thumping header, giving Mat Ryan no chance.
Provider turned scorer five minutes later, Rabiot latching on to Kylian Mbappe’s clever flick and bursting into the box before unselfishly squaring for Giroud to tap in his 50th international goal.
Mbappe somehow volleyed over an Antoine Griezmann cross as France sought to extend their advantage before halftime, although Jackson Irvine’s header clipped the post as Australia came close to exposing their depleted back line again.
The Socceroos were unable to ask further questions in the second half, however, and instead two more goals in four minutes finished the contest.
First the irresistible Mbappe rose to nod in Ousmane Dembele’s cross after Griezmann’s shot had been cleared off the line and then raced away down the left and clipped the ball across for Giroud to head in his record-equalling goal and wrap up an ultimately comfortable win.- Sporting News