France defeated Australia 4-1 at Al Wakrah thanks to goals from Adrien Rabiot, Olivier Giroud, and Kylian Mbappe. Despite conceding first, Didier Deschamps’ defending champions are now in first place in World Cup Group D.
France started their defense of their World Cup title in Qatar with a 4-1 victory against Australia, coming back from an early goal by the Aussies.
Didier Deschamps’ team almost suffered the same fate as Argentina did against Saudi Arabia when Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead in the opening 10 minutes of the match, the first of many major upsets on a day that included one of the greatest in World Cup history.
A pair of first-half goals from Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud placed France ahead, and the team’s superior skill was on full display in the second 45 minutes, with Kylian Mbappe taking center stage. He scored the third and then provided a wonderful pass for Giroud to score the fourth.
With the goal, Giroud, at age 36, tied Thierry Henry for first place on France’s all-time list of men’s national team goal scorers with 51. One day, the great Mbappe will shatter that record.
Reasons why France stole it from Australia
Australia, no doubt aware of the magnitude of the challenge ahead, showed impressive poise early on and ultimately achieved their aim in a superb manner. Goodwin finished off a cross from Matthew Leckie after a superb switch of play by Harry Souttar.
France may have felt like the odds were stacked against them when Lucas Hernandez was hurt in the lead-up to Australia’s goal. His brother Theo stepped in as a substitution and helped Rabiot’s equalizer, and the team never looked back.
The graceful midfielder quickly transitioned to a provider after bringing his nation level, setting up Giroud after latching onto a lovely pass from Mbappe. The experienced striker needed just to direct the ball into the net to reach the milestone of 50 international goals.
Jackson Irvine almost scored an insurance goal in first-half stoppage time as his header went off the post after being set up by Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. Australia has its fair share of glory days.
Mbappe, though, took control in the second half, torturing the defense as France tried to increase their advantage. Mbappe scored off the post after heading in Ousmane Dembele’s right-wing cross, despite an effort by Griezmann being cleared off the line.
Soon after, Mbappe shifted to the role of provider, and Giroud finished off a cross from the other wing with a header. With current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema out, much has been made of the players who aren’t playing. Though, in 2018, France was still powerful despite his absence. Indeed, they suddenly seem formidable as well.
Winner of the match’s Most Valuable Player Award: Kylian Mbappe
This was not one of his better performances by any means. Perhaps Giroud will get the credit for what was a monumental occasion for him as a consequence of his goals. But without a doubt, the exceptional Mbappe was the best player on the field.
In the first half, he squandered a clear opportunity from close range, then in the second, he squandered a similar one with a wide open goal. However, he wore down the Australia defense before, during, and after the game. A sight to take your breath away.
Mbappe has accomplished pretty about everything there is to do at the age of 23. Of course he has already won the World Cup. But he has already accomplished what Pele could not: score in a final while still a youngster. He now seems to be capable of doing what the Brazilian did: win and keep the trophy.
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Word on the street has claimed that his friendship with Giroud isn’t what it seems to be off the field. It seems he’s found the perfect opponent on there. France has the squad to give him a chance to shine. He’s got all the chops to rule the spotlight. If this is his World Cup, nobody would be surprised.
According to what the upper management has said…
Didier Deschamps, manager of the French national team: “After a shaky start, we started to look well and work together in the opening few minutes. It was a goal we should have been able to prevent, yet we allowed it in. We played with much more assurance in the second half, putting Australia on the defensive, and ultimately scoring four times.
“It’s a promising start to the competition. The first game in any tournament is always crucial. I’d want to offer my best wishes to the squad and all of the players. In previous games we’ve seen teams who were down unable to come back, but we did just that.”
Arnold, Graham, Australia’s Head Coach: “Ultimately, I credit the victory to the high caliber of the French squad. For good cause, they were the winners in the past. The first part of the journey went swimmingly. They were far superior to modern humans in terms of size, speed, and strength. The lads gave it their very best effort, which is all I could expect of them.
“In the past week that we’ve been in camp, we’ve built up our confidence, our strength, and our will. Initially, we had faith in our plan. We practiced for just such an objective. However, our shortcomings led to consequences. They were dead on with their crosses. This round is over. The other outcome being a tie is a positive development. It’s time to focus on Saturday’s game. There is a need for us to make preparations.”