Socceroos' resistance broken at the end by France
FRANCE (Griezmann 58′, Pogba 82′)
AUSTRALIA (Jedinak 62′)
By Jordan Mulach
France has defeated Australia 2-1 in the first Group C match of the 2018 World Cup although not without resistance from the Socceroos.
— Equipe de France (@equipedefrance) June 16, 2018
France had the better of the opening exchanges and Mathew Ryan was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
The flow of the match was disrupted by numerous fouls and Mathew Leckie became the first to earn the ire of the referee with an awkward and clumsy tackle that resulted in a yellow card for the Australian.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium and although France shaded possession with 51 per cent possession and five attempts on goal compared to the Socceroos’ two, the 0-0 scoreline at half-time reflected the evenness of the contest.
The opening goal of the match came in controversial circumstances. Josh Risdon appeared to make contact with Antoine Griezmann in the box as he slid in for a tackle.
After a delay of several minutes as the video assistant referee (VAR) system scrutinised the incident, the referee eventually pointed to the spot. Griezmann stepped up and fired the ball past Ryan to put his side 1-0 ahead in the 58th minute.
But Australia was only behind for four minutes when Aaron Mooy floated a free kick into the box and Samuel Umtiti inexplicably stuck his hand in the air to clear the ball. The referee pointed to the spot and Mile Jedinak stepped up to send Hugo Lloris the wrong way and draw the sides level.
Australia’s hopes of securing a draw started to build as they continued to deny the French clear goal-scoring chances.
But that all changed with the match-winning moment just nine minutes from full-time when Paul Pogba stabbed at the ball on the edge of the area, it deflected off Aziz Behich, looped over a stranded Ryan and went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Coach Bert van Marwijk introduced the youngest player at the tournament, 19-year-old Daniel Arzani, but despite a couple of attacks into the French penalty area, the Socceroos couldn’t find the equaliser.
After the match, Socceroos skipper Jedinak told Optus Sport that for large parts of the game, the side was able to stick to its game plan.
“We knew we had to be right at it from the start and into the second half,” Jedinak said.
“We knew that they would come out at us, we need to maintain that discipline and focus and we did that. It’s just unfortunate, we got ourselves in the game, it felt good then they got that goal. We had a go at the end but it wasn’t meant to be.
“If we maintain that form, discipline, structure and concentration throughout, let’s see where it gets us. The boys put in a mighty effort today.”
France: 13 (6 on target)
Australia: 6 (1 on target)
FRANCE: 1 Lloris, 2 Pavard, 4 Varane, 5 Umtiti, 6 Pogba (82′), 7 Griezmann (58′), 10 Mbappe, 11 Dembele, 12 Tolisso, 13 Kante, 21 Hernandez
Substitutes: 3 Kimpembe, 8 Lemar, 9 Giroud, 14 Matuidi, 15 Nzonzi, 16 Mandanda, 17 Rami, 18 Fekir, 19 Sidibe, 20 Thauvin, 22 Mendy, 23 Areola
AUSTRALIA: 1 Ryan, 5 Milligan, 7 Leckie, 10 Kruse, 11 Nabbout, 13 Mooy, 15 Jedinak (62′), 16 Behich, 19 Risdon, 20 Sainsbury, 23 Rogic
Substitutes: 2 Degenek, 3 Meredith, 4 Cahill, 6 Jurman, 8 Luongo, 9 Juric, 12 Jones, 12 Maclaren, 17 Arzani, 18 Vukovic, 21 Petratos, 22 Irvine