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A brace by Olivier Giroud and a goal each by Adrien Rabiot, and Kylian Mbappe helped defending champions France to carve out an emphatic 4-1 win over Australia in their Group D match at the Janoub Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday evening.
The World Cup holders bounced back from early scare when Craig Goodwin gave Socceroos 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 face 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 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 fell much of a difference the absence of the likes of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, both members of the team that won the 2018 World Cup, both 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 defense, scoring twice in five minutes 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 effort hitting the post just before halftime.
Deschamps praises Mbappe, Rabiot, Giroud for the Win
Doha, Nov 23 (IANS) France coach Didier Deschamps had praise for four specific players after his side kicked off their FIFA World Cup campaign with a 4-1 win against Australia in Al Wukayr on Tuesday night.
Olivier Giroud scored twice to equal Thierry Henry’s record of 51 international goals, Adrien Rabiot scored one goal and created another, and Kylian Mbappe was simply too much for the Australian side to handle.
“(Mbappe)’s been one of the best players in the world for years now and he’s very confident, you can see that he’s calm and concentrated,” said Deschamps.
“I knew he’d be ready for the World Cup, he knows how to score goals and he can play as part of a team, even though he is a flair player,” he added,
The coach also praised Rabiot, saying he would have played even if Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante had not been injured, reports Xinhua.
“Adrien has already shown what he can do for France and is playing at a high standard, and I never had doubts about his skill or ability. He is good for balance, he is intelligent, he wins the ball wins headers and scores goals; he’s a very important player for the team,” commented the coach, who said he’d taken off Giroud to allow him to rest.
“Olivier Giroud did what he does best and scored goals, we have another match in four days’ time and we had scored four goals, it’s great for him that he scored, but leaving the pitch allowed him to rest,” he said.
Deschamps also praised Antoine Griezmann’s “intelligence and great technical ability and effort.”
“Things usually work when you have great, intelligent players,” he said.
The only disappointment was an injury to defender Lucas Hernandez, who went off early with a possible groin injury.
“I think it’s quite serious. We’re waiting for further tests, but unfortunately, I think it’s serious,” admitted the coach.
Australia head coach Graham Arnold accepted the defeat and said he had nothing he could criticize his players for.
“They are world champions for a reason. We started the game well, but physically they were bigger, faster and stronger. The boys did all they could and that’s all I can ask,” he said.
Arnold admitted that his side had struggled to deal with Kylian Mbappe. “How do you stop someone so quick? It’s very difficult,” he admitted, before turning his attention to Saturday’s game against Tunisia.
“We’ve built the belief and energy and focus and the way we started (the game). We got punished for our mistakes and (France’s) crosses were right on target. It’s good the other result (0-0 between Tunisia and Denmark) was a draw and now we have to get ready for it,” he concluded.