VAR takes centre stage as France edge past Australia
France have beaten Australia 2-1 in their opening game of the World Cup in Kazan.
Les Bleus went ahead in controversial circumstances when a penalty was given by VAR which Antoine Griezmann converted, but Mile Jedinak equalised from the spot just three minutes later.
Paul Pogba netted the winner in the 80th minute, though, floating the ball in off the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
Kylian Mbappe nearly gave France the lead within the opening two minutes when he burst down the right but Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan tipped the ball around the near post.
A Paul Pogba free-kick was easily saved before Antoine Griezmann’s long-range shot forced Ryan into his third save in the opening six minutes.
Australia grew into the match after that though and nearly led when Aaron Mooy’s free-kick was turned towards the net by France midfielder Corentin Tolisso, but Hugo Lloris dived low to his left to deflect the ball behind.
By this point, France looked sluggish and were struggling to create the fluidity they showed in the opening 15 minutes. Antoine Griezmann caused problems on the half-hour mark but he was crowded out by the Australian defence.
Aziz Behich could have put the Socceroos ahead just before halftime but his right-footed shot curled just over the bar.
France opened the scoring in controversial circumstances when Josh Risdon tackled Antoine Griezmann inside the penalty area. Initially, the referee waved play on but VAR was used for the first time this World Cup and, despite the replay still proving inconclusive, a penalty was given and Griezmann thumped the ball into the right side of the net.
Australia hit back straight away, and a moment of madness by Samuel Umtiti gave Australia a penalty of their own. The Barcelona defender punched the ball away to deflect a cross and Mile Jedinak stepped up to equalise.
Mathew Leckie nearly put Australia in trouble five minutes later when he underhit a backpass but Ryan raced out to clear just before Mbappe could reach it.
Paul Pogba broke Australian hearts 10 minutes from time when his shot from the edge of the area bounced just over the line off the crossbar. They had to wait once again though while VAR checked for an offside in the build-up but the goal was given.
The Manchester United man could have added a third before full time but he was unabled to get a shot off after Mbappe had drawn Ryan out of his goal.
France continue their campaign against Peru in Ekaterinburg on Thursday. For Australia, attention turns towards their next match against Denmark.