France fail to convince in victory over Australia

Mae Harvey
June 18, 2018

Midfielder Paul Pogba scored the winning goal for France, who overcame Australia 2-1 in a FIFA World Cup Group C contest here on Saturday.

Although referee Andres Cunha initially waved play on, he pointed to the spot after consulting video technology, Griezmann having been clipped by Risdon as he entered the box.

"It's a good job there was video in this case", Griezmann said.

Replays appeared to show that Risdon got a gossamer-light toe-end on the ball but no matter, the grand high VAR council had spoken, and Griezmann did the honours from the spot.

"It wasn't a great match for the team or for me, but the important thing is to start with a victory", Griezmann said. I think there were a lot of moments they didn't know what to do anymore. "But when he went to see if there was a penalty I immediately thought about how I would take it".

"I made a different choice: he was disappointed too". There were many situations in which France did not know what to do anymore.

Indeed, the first half proved to be largely barren, as Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele found themselves restricted to sporadic pot-shots and craven attempts to coax freekicks in advanced positions.

But with 17 minutes gone Hugo Lloris prevented Australia from taking a surprise lead, making a fine low save after another Mooy delivery had been deflected towards his own goal by Corentin Tolisso.

Youngster Daniel Arzani made his world cup debut and showed off his pace in a final flurry, but the minnows again struggled in the offensive third.

Australia played with grit and a relatively sound defensive structure against France, but it simply wasn't enough to overcome the disparity in ability and experience.

It was French keeper Hugo Lloris who was tested most, keeping out a Mooy free kick that French defender Corentin Tolisso nearly deflected into the bottom corner of his own goal.

An Australian team determined not to suffer the all but tournament-ending torpedoes their predecessors had at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups - when we conceded twice inside the first half hour at both competitions - were compact and committed early.

Flamengo forward Guerrero had a 14-month ban for testing positive for cocaine overturned just weeks before the tournament began and celebrated by scoring twice in a friendly against Saudi Arabia.

It was a hard defeat for Australia to take after such a resilient display.

Australia then spent most of the first half defending and ultimately frustrating France, rarely creating real chances of their own.

VAR focuses on four key areas: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.

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