France wasn’t at its best in Russia on Saturday, but Les Bleus did just enough to secure a 2-1 over Australia in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group C opener.
Both teams got quality chances in the first half, but the score remained 0-0 at the half. Things picked up early in the second half, however, as France’s Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty kick that was awarded after the first use of video assistant refereeing to make such a decision in World Cup history.
A dumbfounding handball by France’s Samuel Umtiti gave Australia’s Mile Jedinak a penalty kick opportunity moments later, though, and the the 33-year-old Aussie delivered.
The match appeared destined for a draw, but France’s Paul Pogba banged the ball off the crossbar and into the net in the 79th minute to give the Bleus a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
Here are the highlights:
The French are considered one of the favorites, on paper, to win the tournament. But Saturday’s result, while ultimately acceptable, was uninspiring.
Still, Pogba and his teammates will take the win and look to make adjustments before their second match.
Here’s France vs. Australia by the numbers:
Man of the match: Griezmann, as he so often is, was a difference-maker for The Blues.
Next up: Both teams will return to the field Thursday, with Australia slated to play Denmark and France scheduled to take on Peru.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/FOXSoccer