France have defeated Australia by 2-1 to begin their World Cup campaign with three points.
Didier Deschamps’s side were not at their best in Saturday’s Group C opener in Kazan, but a controversial penalty from Antoine Griezmann and an own goal from Aziz Behich gave Les Blues an opening-game victory.
Heading into the game, France were the clear favorites and it took less than two minutes for Kylian Mbappe to get a shot on target, with the Paris Saint-Germain seeing an effort palmed away by Mathew Ryan at the near post.
Australia rallied and began pushing France back into their own half and even though Deschamps’s side responded, finding themselves evenly matched seemed to have a lasting effect and Australia were rarely threatened before the break.
The opening minutes of the second half passed by without incident but just before the hour mark, France were controversially given a spot-kick for a foul by Josh Risdon on Antoine Griezmann, a verdict given with the assistance of VAR even with the defender getting a touch to the ball.
Griezmann fired this effort from 12 yards to Ryan’s left – with the goalkeeper having no chance at stopping the ball – but three minutes later, Australia got the justice that they felt they deserved when been awarded a penalty at the other end.
Samuel Umtiti weirdly put his hand up to alter the direction of a cross and from the resulting penalty, Jedinak coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
The equalizer led to Deschamps making changes – as well as the introduction of Olivier Giroud for Griezmann – but as the game headed into the final 15 minutes, France’s only effort on goal came from a tentative volley from Benjamin Pavard.
Nevertheless, with 10 minutes left, France regained the lead. Pogba’s run into the penalty area was halted by Behich but the defender could only divert the ball over the head of Ryan and watched on as his intervention struck the underside of the crossbar and went inches over the line.
Australia struggled to respond from the disappointment of conceding a second and although France failed to find a third in the final minutes, Deschamps and his players will be pleased to come through with maximum points from a fixture where they performed absolutely below par.