Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Paul Pogba scores late victor as France edge plucky Socceroos

Socceroos 2018 Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann Lead France Past Australia in 2018 World Cup
Betsy Taylor | 18 June, 2018, 11:48

Peru had waited 36 years to appear at a World Cup and few nations will have endured a more nervous build-up to Russian Federation 2018.

"They lost with such an unlucky goal", Bert van Marwijk said after the match.

Manchester United midfielder Pogba, who was criticised after recent below-par performances for France, found the back of the net with a lob after a fine one-two with second-half substitute Olivier Giroud nine minutes from time. From running at defenders to threading in through balls into the Australian box, France did everything they could.

The most optimistic fans of Les Bleus will remember that France started its campaign in Russian Federation with a 2-1 win over Australia.

Between the three of them, Risdon, Milligan and Sainsbury had 26 interceptions, more than the entire French team combined. The Atletico Madrid forward struck the ball into the right corner to open the scoring.

Les Bleus started the better - Matthew Ryan made three (comfortable) saves within the first five minutes - but Australia grew into the match and had the only good chance of the game's first hour, Mathew Ledickie's header forcing Hugo Lloris into an excellent save after 17 minutes.


French coach Didier Deschamps chose a fluid 4-3-3 formation, while Australian boss van Marwijk made a decision to go with a 4-2-3-1 shape. But in the second half of the game everything would come to life. Griezmann, who won the penalty, slotted home to hand his the lead.

Risdon had appeared to get the very faintest of touches on the ball with his last-ditch slide, but it did not take the ball out of Griezmann's possession and the tackle then subsequently tripped up the French attacker's trailing foot as he bore down on goal.

"That's not simulation." Griezmann admitted France had not played well.

Antoine Griezmann converted to give them the lead after a goalless first half, but Mile Jedinak struck from the spot to equalise minutes later before Paul Pogba's deflected strike hit the bar and bounced in for a late victor. That Australia rarely mounted any attacks to put them under pressure helped Raphael Varane and Co but sterner tests await them against Denmark and Peru.

His fellow superstar Messi, with whom he has monopolised the world player of the year award for a decade, is under huge pressure to secure his first major global trophy and make amends for Argentina's painful loss to Germany in the 2014 final.

Even that goal might not have counted in the days before technology was brought into the game with Pogba's shot looping off the shin of Aziz Behich, hitting the crossbar and bouncing down inside the goal before coming back out.

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