France have defeated Australia in their Qatar 2022 Group D World Cup opener played late Tuesday after surviving an early shock to open their title defence with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Australia at Al Janoub Stadium.
Olivier Giroud grabbed his 50th and 51st international goals to move alongside Thierry Henry at the top of Les Bleus’ all-time scoring list, while Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe each contributed a goal and assist.
Few could have foreseen such a comfortable night for the reigning champions when the Socceroos snatched a shock eighth-minute lead.
Craig Goodwin’s expertly converted strike was the earliest goal scored against the French at a World Cup since Bryan Robson’s famous 27-second effort in 1982, and had some wondering if Argentina’s stunning loss to Saudi Arabia might not be the only shock of the day.
Rabiot, however, emerged as an unlikely first-half hero on his FIFA World Cup debut, first by heading home Theo Hernandez’s inviting left-foot cross and then in unselfishly teeing up Giroud for the simplest of finishes.
Mbappe then took centre stage in the second half, glancing in another superb delivery from Ousmane Dembele before producing a brilliant cross of his own for Giroud to power a record-equalling header past Mat Ryan.
Giroud famously became a World Cup winner in 2018 without managing a shot on target, never mind a goal.
That he ended his eight-and-a-half year wait for another strike at the global finals was indebted solely to another player who, until recently, looked unlikely to even make the squad.
Adrien Rabiot had just scored and would have been well within his rights to go for a second when he broke into the box with the goal seemingly at his mercy.
Admirably, however, he spotted his team-mate in a better position and squared for Giroud – a late addition following the injury to Karim Benzema – to tap home from close range.
This was the first World Cup match to include two or more headed French goals since Zinedine Zidane’s famous brace in the 1998 final.
France will take on Denmark while Tunisia will meet Australia on 26th November. Read more.