France Begins World Cup Defense Campaign With 4-1 Win Over Australia originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
France is off and running in the 2022 World Cup after a dominant 4-1 win over Australia on Tuesday.
Following Denmark and Tunisia playing to a scoreless draw in the opening Group D fixture, the top spot was up for grabs.
France’s repeat campaign after winning the World Cup in 2018 did not get off to a promising start, as Craig Goodwin’s ninth-minute goal opened the account for the Socceroos.
Goodwin got in the box behind French right back Benjamin Pavard, who had no awareness he was beaten when Mathew Leckie sent in a low cross that skipped past France’s two center backs. Goodwin composedly finished with his left past Hugo Lloris, who found himself in no man’s land.
France expectedly raised the tempo of the game through their high press during Australia’s attempt to build up and maintain possession. The chances gradually came, with Adrien Rabiot opening the scoring for France through a header off a corner-kick clearance in the 27th minute.
Then five minutes later, Rabiot’s high press forced Australia to lose possession on the left flank, and Rabiot got to the loose ball first as he set up Olivier Giroud for an easy tap-in to make it 2-1 in the 32nd minute, which stayed put at the half.
France dominated possession in the opening 15 second-half minutes, controlling the ball 70% of the time. Australia seemed content to sit back in a 4-5-1 low block so it could break in numbers on a counter attack, with a Giroud scissor kick attempt being the marquee chance for Les Bleus.
But Australia’s passiveness eventually became their kryptonite. France’s constant pressure paved the way for more goals, with Kylian Mbappé getting on the board in the 68th minute off a header from an Ousmane Dembélé cross.
Just three minutes later, Mbappe set up Giroud with a cross from the left wing, and the 36-year-old striker headed it in as he’s done throughout his lengthy career. The goal also marked Giroud’s 51st, tying Thierry Henry for France’s record all-time goalscorer.
Australia ended up not logging a single shot on target in the second half, with France having seven on 23 total shots.
In the end, France’s 4.20 expected goals to Australia’s 0.59 measured out in the final scoreline, but all eyes will be on Les Bleus’ next fixture.
Though Denmark’s first game resulted in a goalless tie, the Danish Dynamite will be France’s toughest opposition in the group. A win for France would put it in pole position to finish first ahead of the group finale against Tunisia.
Kick-off time for France-Denmark is Saturday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. ET, 8 a.m. PT.