France 2-1 Australia – Group C Match Report
Paul Pogba scored a late winner for France as they secured an unconvincing 2-1 victory against Australia in Kazan.
Didier Deschamps’ side have been installed as one of the favourites to win the World Cup but they produced a lethargic display against a well-drilled Socceroos side and were fortunate to take three points from the match.
France started the match brightly and created the first chance after only two minutes when Kylian Mbappe raced clear before forcing Mat Ryan to make a smart save.
The Australia goalkeeper then kept out Antoine Griezmann’s 25-yard effort before Mbappe’s free-kick was flicked on by the Atletico Madrid star but it was dealt with by Ryan.
The Socceroos weathered the early France storm though and they went close to grabbing a shock lead in the 17th minute when Hugo Lloris had to be alert to keep the ball out after his team-mate, Corentin Tolisso, had got a touch on Aaron Mooy’s free-kick.
After a quiet spell Griezmann was only just unable to latch on to a long ball forward in the 30th minute but France were looking increasingly frustrated in their attempts to breach the Australia defence.
Mark Milligan blocked Lucas Hernandez’s low drive but Australia grew increasingly confident as the first half wore on.
Les Bleus still looked extremely flat at the start of the second period but they were awarded a penalty in controversial circumstances 13 minutes after the restart.
Griezmann beat Brighton goalkeeper Ryan from the spot after being tripped by Josh Risdon, a decision that was only reached after the referee had left the pitch to look at an action replay of the incident.
Australia had a penalty of their own just past the hour mark though when Samuel Umtiti inexplicable handled Mooy’s free-kick, Mile Jedinak sending Lloris the wrong way with his spot-kick.
The match looked set to end in a draw until, with 10 minutes left, Pogba’s flick deflected off Aziz Behich, drifted over Ryan and crossed the line off the underside of the bar.
Australia were unable to respond and France saw out the game with few alarms but they will need to produce a much better display if they are to beat Peru in their next match on Thursday.