Wed, 23 Nov 2022 07:40 AM IST | Source: IANS
A BRACE by Olivier Giroud and a goal each by Adrien Rabiot, and Kylian Mbappe helped the defending champions France to carve out an emphatic 4-1 win over Australia in their Group D match at Janoub Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The World Cup holders bounced back from an early scare when Craig Goodwin gave the Socceroos a shock lead in the 9th minute but goals by Rabiot (27th minute), Giroud (32nd and 74th) and Mbappe (68) paved the way for full points for manager Didier Deschamps side.
France next faces Denmark on November 26, who earlier in the day shared points with Tunisia in a goalless draw at Education City Stadium and wind up their group engagements against Tunisia on November 30. Australia on the other hand take on Tunisia in the next round match on November 26 and end their group fixtures with a match against Denmark four days later.
The two teams had met in the last World Cup, with France narrowly beating Australia 2-1 in the group stage courtesy of an own goal and a penalty, and the early goal had given the Australians a vision of a win this time around. But that was not to be, as Mbappe and company rose to the occasion to begin their campaign of retaining the title in style.
Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann called the shots and in the absence of this year's Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema, who had to withdraw from the tournament after tearing a muscle in training, called the shots on the pitch.
With an embarrassment of riches, France did not feel much of a difference in the absence of the likes of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, both members of the team that won the 2018 World Cup, both of who were unable to travel to Qatar.
The Socceroos' stunned the French supporters into silence very early in the match with a brilliant goal as Craig Goodwin smashed the ball into the net in the ninth minute from the back post after a sweeping, sensational attacking move.
The European giants showed their class to come back in style to rip open the rival defence, scoring twice in five minutes on either side of the 30-minute mark to go into the halftime break with a 2-1.
Midfielder Rabiot scored France's first goal in the championship while Giroud added a second one five minutes later to give the lead to his team. In the second half, France added another two goals within three minutes to roar to a 4-1 lead.
Giroud scored his second goal of the day in the 71st minute, with Mbappe having made it 3-1 three minutes earlier. The Australians had their share of chances which included Jackson Irvine's effort hitting the post just before halftime.