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Paul Pogba winner helps France secure 2-1 win against Australia
June 16, 2018, 8:46 pm
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France survived its World Cup opener against Australia, but not without the help of technology.

Les Bleus benefited from the first use of Video Assistant Referee in World Cup history, while Paul Pogba scored the winner aided by goal-line technology, as France persevered 2-1 in Kazan. Antoine Griezmann's penalty kick followed a VAR ruling in the 58th minute, while Mile Jedinak equalized from the penalty spot four minutes later. Pogba's deflected chance hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced in in the 81st minute for the decider.

The first few minutes started as expected, with France controlling possession and in less than two minutes Kylian Mbappe had a glorious chance to make it 1-0, but in the end it went for a corner. Moments later, Le Bleus were awarded a free-kick outside the box but Paul Pogba could only direct it straight to the keeper.

Another fantastic counter-attacking play saw Antoine Griezmann's first attempt but again, it went straight to the hands of Matt Ryan. Another free-kick found the Atletico Madrid once again, but again, it went straight to the Brighton stopper. Just after 10 minutes, Australia was awarded its own free-kick but it ended above Hugo Lloris's goal. Moments later, France got its third set piece but it went for another corner, cleared by Australia's tough defensive unit.

A golden opportunity for Australia as another set piece required Lloris to dive down and turn into a corner.

The Aussies knew if they were to score today, it had to be from getting as many dead-ball situations as possible. As the game developed, they got more confident using Aaron Mooy as much as possible to move the chains and create more possession.

In the 27th minute, the Socceroos were awarded another free-kick from the right hand side, inside France's half but Tottenham's No. 1 was once again there to pick up the scraps. France, meanwhile was finding it difficult to break Bert van Marwijk's team.

A golden opportunity from inside the box could only divert to a corner, seeing Mat Ryan protecting his goal once again. With five minutes left in the half, Australia's defensive unit was in control, not allowing any avenues for the talented French attackers to exploit. Didier Deschamps was surely frustrated at the lack of creativity his team were producing as the first half ended scoreless. 

The second half started the same way as the first, with France launching an attack straight from the getgo, but Australia remained committed. A fantastic piece of play from the right hand side nearly saw an Aussie opener but it went past Mathew Leckie. 

Then, came the drama as Griezmann was brought down in the box, but VAR was needed for the penalty appeal.

The Atleti star made it and it went 1-0 to France. But moments later, Umtiti handballed in the box after an Australian free kick and it went back to 1-1. 

Once Australia equalized, the match became more physical as both teams anxiously searched for the winner. Australia was awarded another free-kick after 75 minutes but it came to nothing as France held on just outside the box. France, meanwhile, having replaced Griezmann with Olivier Giroud, were searching for opportunities in the air with no avail.

But Paul Pogba came to the rescue as his goal shot went over Ryan, hitting the crossbar and clearing the line. 

In the end, the French fought hard against a resilient Australia and securing three points in the Group C opener.


Here are the rosters for both teams:

FRANCE

Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola (PSG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

Manager: Didier Deschamps

AUSTRALIA

​​Goalkeepers:Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk)

Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich).

Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall)

Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian)

Manager: Bert van Marwijk

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