French striker Olivier Giroud scored twice to become his country’s joint record goal scorer as France opened their World Cup defence with a 4-1 Group D win over Australia.
Australia’s Socceroos had shocked the world champions by scoring a ninth-minute goal, with Craig Goodwin side-footing the ball into the top corner.
The underdogs would no doubt have drawn inspiration from this morning’s shock defeat of Argentina by Saudi Arabia.
With French full back Lucas Hernandez limping off after being injured while attempting to block the cross that led to the first goal, France could not have asked for a worse start.
“He needs to do some tests but it seems pretty serious. That’s the big black spot tonight,” said coach Didier Deschamps. The defender joins midfielders N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba and forwards Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku on France’s injured list.
But Hernandez’s brother Theo took his place in France’s defensive line, and less than twenty minutes later was instrumental in setting up Adrien Rabiot’s first goal for Les Blues – snuffing out Australia’s early confidence which saw Mitch Duke hit a shot just wide of the uprights.
Five minutes later, with a little more than half an hour on the clock, Giroud, who at 36 became France’s oldest player in World Cup history, found himself with a near-empty goal as a result of an excellent French press.
France took the lead and never looked back.
A chance for Australia’s Jackson Irvine in the dying moments of the first half, coming against the run of play, rattled off the post, sending a warning through a French team at risk of complacency.
France continued to dominate in the second half. Though Australia posed a threat on the counter-attack, they invited pressure by sitting deep.
Spectacular Socceroo defending saw an effort from Antoine Griezmann cleared off the goal-line – but their defence wasn’t enough to stop Kylian Mbappe using his head to find his goal in the 67th minute. Five minutes later, Mbappe broke down the left and put in a cross headed home by Giroud for France’s fourth. Giroud is now tied with Thierry Henry on 51 goals for France.
Australia will have more chances to make their mark on this tournament. France have already made theirs.