A controversial Paul Pogba goal which was later declared as Aziz Behich own goal and a VAR-assisted penalty given to Antoine Griezmann, which he converted, helped France to win a scarcely deserved match over Australia.

Antoine Griezmann scored the first penalty given by VAR in World Cup history as France beat Australia with a very less margin, 2-1 in their Group C opener.

The French squad had started the game in a good way as they carved out three chances in the opening six minutes but things took a turn for the worse as the game progressed. Australia played equally well in the beginning as they came agonizingly close to taking the lead after 17 minutes. Aaron Mooy’s free-kick from the left was diverted by Corentin Tolisso towards his own goal post, but a quick reaction from Hugo Lloris was enough to turn it around the post.

After a disappointing first half, the game shot into life after the interval as the referee awarded a penalty to France after using the technology of VAR as Australia’s Josh Risdon clipped Griezmann just inside the penalty area. The Atletico Madrid striker’s fierce spot-kick in the 58th minute gave his team the lead but only for four minutes as the Australians were awarded the penalty as well in a very similar fashion. Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick calmly in the 62nd minute. Talk about irony.

The match was growing duller with time until Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba saved the day as his deflected effort bounced off the crossbar and narrowly over the line in the 81st minute.

France will definitely hope for a more fluid performance against Peru on Thursday in order to keep their high-profile whereas Australia will have to work harder against Denmark earn a chance for qualification.

Australia show unreal fighting spirit

After coach Ange Postecoglou left in November stating that the job had taken its toll both “personally and professionally”,  the new coach Van Marwijk had a limited time to prepare for the World Cup,
 just four friendlies in charge, but his squad looked good enough to earn a draw.

Australians are now aiming to replicate their achievements in 2006, like the only time they had qualified from the group stage in their total of four appearances at the finals.

Players like Huddersfield’s Mooy playing in midfield alongside Jedinak, the Australians looked quite compact and well organized.

While Australia may have only had two victories in their 14 fixtures at the World Cup, we saw a spark that showed enough promise that suggests their ability to approach their next game against Denmark on Thursday with full optimism and enough confidence.

France not at their best

The pre-match talks about France’s much-valued front three, Ousmane Dembele, Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe held no promise during the match at all. 

The youngest Frenchman to play in a major tournament at 19 years and six months, Kylian Mbappe showed a little danger against the Socceroos as he was held back by a well-trained Australian defence along with a what seemed to be unorganized French midfield.

Griezmann, even with his penalty goal, looked a slower and duller version of the player who scored seven times and provided two assists in the past two major tournaments. Both him and Dembele were withdrawn after 70 minutes which highlighted their insignificance in the game. Olivier Giroud came in as Griezmann’s replacement but also struggled to perform and hesitated to get involved, probably due to caution towards his head injury.

VAR & Goal-line technology shine

History was made in Kazan as VAR was used to give a penalty for the first time in the tournament. In a matter of four minutes during the second half VAR was used twice which lead to two different goals scored.

Risdon was the first player to be viewed on the VAR that adversely affected the team as a penalty was awarded about a minute after the Australian full-back tackled and appeared to touch the ball that the French striker Griezmann was aiming to shoot.

Bert van Marwijk’s team was then with the use of VAR was awarded a penalty of their own after the French defender Umtiti used his hand to divert the ball away from the box. This handball was confirmed by Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha after it had been checked on VAR.

In the end, Pogba’s winning shot was verified by the goal-line technology, even after the  Australian goalkeeper Ryan pleaded against it.

The star of the match was indeed the technology of VAR and Goal-Line that provided the points and a little bit of entertainment to the match to an otherwise boring match that failed to inspire even the players.


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