The third matchday of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia began with the Group C encounter between France and Australia in Kazan. Although Les Bleus made a bright start, stars Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann were unable to capitalise on their chances. The Aussies gained a foothold in the game after the first 15 minutes, with Hugo Lloris palming their best first-half opportunity clear when team-mate Corentin Tolisso threatened to deflect a free-kick into his own net.
The action then came thick and fast after the interval. After consulting with the video assistant referees (VAR team), referee Andres Cunha awarded France a penalty that Griezmann coolly converted. Samuel Umtiti then handled the ball in the box just a few minutes later, with Mile Jedinak scoring the resulting spot-kick. Didier Deschamps’ side ultimately turned the match back in their favour, thanks to an own goal from Australia defender Aziz Behich.
Both teams will be back in action on Thursday 21 June, when France take on Peru, while Australia will be under pressure against Denmark.
By the end of this match, only one thing was certain: France still have plenty of work to do. Their weaknesses were clear, as they sought to find their rhythm. It was a tough emcounter, and it is difficult to escape the fact that Les Bleus were very lucky to secure all three points in their opening game. Eleven top players do not always make a top team – not yet, anyway…
The Socceroos held their own against their French opponents. They may even have deserved a draw and can certainly be satisfied with their performance. They were well organised and resolute in defence. Coach Bert van Marwijk will be glad that his team delivered what he has been calling for all week. All in all, the boys in green and gold can be proud of how they pushed France all the way.
The French whirlwind was extremely nimble and busy throughout the game, constantly switching positions and popping up both up front and on both wings. Eventually only a foul could stop Griezmann, who then stepped up to convert the resulting penalty himself.
At 19 years and 178 days old, Kylian Mbappe today became the youngest player ever to feature for France at a World Cup. In doing so, he broke the record set by Bruno Bellone, who played for L’Equipe Tricolore at Spain 1982, aged 20 years and 118 days.
What’s next? Denmark v Australia - Group C, 21 June, Samara (Samara Arena) France v Peru - Group C, 21 June, Ekaterinburg (Ekaterinburg Arena)