France squeeze past Aussies in WC opener
Posted: 16 June 2018 Time: 13:03
France pulled off a scrappy 2-1 win over Australia to get their 2018 World Cup campaign off to a winning start.
Les Blues wasted little time, as they got the first effort in on goal after Kylian Mbappe broke through the defence to force Matthew Ryan to a save in the opening seconds.
It was to be a busy opening minutes for Ryan who had to save a free-kick from Paul Pogba after a foul on Mbappe.
Star striker Antoine Griezmann was at the end of a low cross but shot straight at Ryan and he forced to another save later on as he headed low from a free-kick.
The French were called to defensive duty with 17 minutes gone when a free-kick connected with Trent Sainsbury whose glancing header forced Hugo Lloris to a fingertip save.
The game went through a lull the next quarter, as neither posed any meaningful threats to break the deadlock on a warm Kazan afternoon.
There were no changes at the interval, as both sides returned unchanged from the tunnel. France were handed a chance to go ahead after the match official overturned his decision to award them a penalty.
With the assistance of VAR (Video Assistance Referee), the 1998 World champions took the initiative as Griezmann left Ryan flat-footed with a stunning strike for the opener on 58 minutes.
The FC Barcelona target were inches away from completing a double within seconds after breaking through from the side, but a cluster of defenders kept him away.
The Socceroos got a chance to go level when Samuel Umtiti handled inside the box forcing the man in the middle to point to the spot.
Mile Jediank sent the yellow brigade inside the stadium in raptures with a coolly converted finish that sent Lloris the other way on 62 minutes.
The Aussies were left with a spring in their step and confident of an upset, as it led Didier Deschamps was then forced to make a double change, bringing on Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir.
A quick bit of thinking from Paul Pogba and Fekir put the former through on goal where poked the ball off the underside of the bar despite an opposing challenge with 10 minutes to go.
The European giants held their nerve towards the final stages to get Group C off on a winning note ahead of their next two clashes with Peru and Denmark respectively.