Goals from Olivier Giroud – who got two and equalled Thierry Henry’s French scoring record – Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe brought the holders from behind to beat Australia in another extremely enjoyable match.
They take control of Group C following Denmark’s draw with Tunisia earlier in the day, and will not surrender their title easily.
Australia took a shock lead on nine minutes, Craig Goodwin finishing well after great work by Harry Souttar and Matt Leckie. But inspired by the irrepressible Kylian Mbappe, France came back hard, and two goals in five minutes, from Rabiot and Giroud, gave them a half-time lead.
Things were slow after the break, France conserving energy and protecting the lead while Australia looked to hang on in the game.
But just after the hour, France exploded again to finish the contest, fine goals by Mbappe and Giroud underlining the extent of their superiority and reminding the world that, for all their faults, their title won’t be relinquished without a fight.
France won the 2018 World cup in spite of, not because of Dider Deschamps, whose influence made a phenomenal collection of attackers were part of a team far more negative than it needed to be.
For that reason, France haven’t improved in the intervening four years, and though they’ve the players to beat any team on any day, it’d be surprising were they to retain their title because they don’t look a cohesive unit.
Of course, they are missing important players – Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema – but they didn’t look great with them, because their style seems to be get the ball to Kylian Mbappe and hope he does something. It can work because Mbappe is fantastic, but it is not likely to work because – as PSG can testify – high-end football competitions are usually decided by teams, not individuals.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kylian Mbappe (France) A constant menace, his all-round game devastated Australia, and in this mood and form, he’ll be too good for better teams than Australia.
France: Lloris 6, Pavard 6, Konate 6, Upamecano 6, Hernandez 6, Tchouameni 7, Rabiot 7, Griezmann 6, Dembele 7, Giroud 7, Mbappe 8. Subs: Hernandez 7, Fofana 6, Coman 6, Thuram 6.
Australia: Ryan 6, Atkinson 5, Rowles 5, Soutter 7, Behich 6, Mooy 5, Irvine 6, McGree 5, Leckie 6, Duke 5, Goodwin 6. Subs: Cummings 6, Mabil 6, Kuol 6, Baccus 6, Degenek 6.
Olivier Giroud now has 51 goals for France, so becomes his country’s joint-top goalscorer, with Thierry Henry.
9’ – GOAL! France 0-1 Australia (Goodwin) This is a fine goal, Soutter slinging a gorgeous switch out to Leckie, who brushes by Hernandez and snaps a perfect low cross to the far post, where Goodwin doesn’t panic, instead sidefooting a lovely finish high over Lloris’ dive, and have we another shock brewing?
27’ – GOAL! France 1-1 Australia (Rabiot) The initial delivery is cleared, but because Australia have everyone back, Hernandez has time to pick up the ball and curl in a gorgeously whipped, curled and flat cross, which the charging Rabiot clatters home via towering header.
32’ – GOAL! France 2-1 Australia (Giroud) This was very nicely done, Rabiot catching Atkinson on the left touchline when he takes a poor touch as Australia try to play out from the back. Mbappe, ever alert, flicks back into his path, he delivers it beautifully into stride, marches into the box, and squares to hand Giroud a tap-in. GOAL! France 2-1 Australia (Giroud) This was very nicely done, Rabiot catching Atkinson on the left touchline when he takes a poor touch as Australia try to play out from the back. Mbappe, ever alert, flicks back into his path, he delivers it beautifully into stride, marches into the box, and squares to hand Giroud a tap-in.
45+2’ – FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TIME, HERE COME AUSTRALIA
Behich finds Goodwin down the left, who digs out a superb cross, and here comes Irvine … who heads against the post and behind! That should’ve been 2-2, and Australia aren’t out this yet!
68’ – GOAL! France 3-1 Australia (Mbappe) A ball down the channel and Mbappe runs onto it, lashing a low ball across the face … that Dembele retrieves. He has a look, then tosses a delectable cross into the middle, and Mbappe soars to send a fine header in off the far post. He’s been electric tonight, and looks bang in the mood to make this tournament all about him.
71’ – GOAL! France 4-1 Australia (Giroud) Giroud joins Thierry Henry as France’s all-timeleading scorer, and look how much his teammates appreciate him! Mbappe drives down the left, screeching past Atkinson, and when he stands up a cross, Giroud powers is back from whence it came, clattering his glorious visage on a defender’s leg before enjoying the moment; he’s earned it.