France recovers from early scare to beat Australia 4-1

The reigning champions beat the Australians 4-1 courtesy of a brace from Giroud and goals from Rabiot and Mbappe.

The match at Al Janoub Stadium saw France line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 despite injury woes plaguing their squad.

Even without Pogba, Kante, Benzema, Varane, Kimpembe and Nkunku, they had an imposing starting XI, while the Australians could only boast a few household names in Graham Arnold, Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy.

But it was the Aussies who played well in the first minutes by winning second balls, forcing turnovers and keeping composure while recycling possession through Mooy.

Eight minutes in, Leckie brought a ball down superbly, went past Lucas Hernandez and clipped a perfect teasing cross along the six-yard line for his opposite winger Goodwin to smash into the roof of the net. Shortly after, Lucas came off with an injury and was replaced by his brother Theo.

Australia’s lead almost felt like deja vu: for the second time today, an underdog shocked a tournament favorite.

France fights back

The French weren’t rattled for long, returning to threatening form with quick rondos in central areas. Griezmann orchestrated a couple of dazzling alongside Mbappe and Dembele, focussing on the left flank.

Substitute left-back Theo Hernandez would start off the goal frenzy with a superbly measured curling assist for Rabiot, who climbed onto Ryan to notch it in.

France wouldn’t let the Aussies breathe as their high press caught out an error by Atkinson. Mbappe, Rabiot and Giroud would then combine for a beautiful passing sequence to an empty net.

France would have added more before half time. A long diagonal had unleashed Griezmann on the inside-right channel. His ball into the box was superb, but Mbappe elected not to head the ball at an awkward height, instead slicing a gilt-edged chance wide.

Australia had one other chance before the break as they hit the post from an awkward header by Goodwin.

Constant pressure

The second half held more devastation for the Socceroos. A string of shots were fired to the Aussie goal in the 68th minute, but none could completely clear the goal line. France continued to attack, and from broken play Dembele shot up a tempting cross from the right. Mbappe then got between the two central defenders, to be in perfect position to head home his side’s third.

There were no brakes in France’s engine as Mbappe followed his goal with a dart across the left side and a beautiful cross to the center with Giroud heading France’s fourth. His second goal allowed him to share the French all-time goal scoring record of 51 with Thierry Henry.

Mbappe would miss another big chance as a through ball from Griezmann couldn’t be controlled from a bad first touch.

Konate would miss the last chance of the game, despite a well connected header which was stopped by Ryan.

The score line may not reflect Australia’s grit this game, but world champions France will be delighted with their attacking efficiency as they prepare to face dark horses Denmark on Saturday.

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