In their opening match in Qatar on Tuesday, the World Cup hosts France thrashed Australia 4-1 thanks to two goals from Olivier Giroud.
Giroud, a seasoned striker, tied Thierry Henry’s record of 51 goals for France, and Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe also scored after Australia unexpectedly took the lead through Craig Goodwin in the ninth minute.
Giroud equals Henry mark
With a brace as hosts France rallied to defeat Australia 4-1 on Tuesday, Olivier Giroud surpassed Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer and began their World Cup defense on a winning note.
Nine minutes into the game, Australia unexpectedly took the lead at Al Janoub Stadium thanks to a goal by Craig Goodwin.
In the move that resulted in that goal, France’s left-back Lucas Hernandez was hurt. France’s preparation for the tournament had been hampered by injuries.
However, they came back to tie the score through Adrien Rabiot before Giroud scored his 50th goal for his country with a simple finish in the 32nd minute.
In the second half, Kylian Mbappe scored, and Giroud completed the victory to tie Henry’s record of 51 goals for France.
Following earlier 0-0 draws in Doha between rivals Denmark and Tunisia, the victory puts them atop Group D.
The oldest player to score for France at a World Cup is veteran AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud, who has 115 caps and is 36 years old.
However, if Karim Benzema had been healthy, he almost certainly would not have been playing here.
Instead, Giroud, who was an important member of Didier Deschamps’ winning French team at the 2018 World Cup but failed to score in Russia, has benefited from the Ballon d’Or winner’s withdrawal from the tournament due to a thigh injury.
Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, the starting midfield duo for Les Bleus four years ago, are also not participating in the tournament, so it’s not just Benzema who is absent for Les Bleus.
Centre-back Since Raphael Varane hasn’t played since sustaining a leg injury while playing for Manchester United one month ago, he wasn’t put at risk.
As a result, Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate, who have combined for nine caps, played as a unit in central defense, and Rabiot partnered with Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield.
Hernandez injury blow
Australia scored the game’s first goal, shocking the world champions.
Right before Goodwin finished into the roof of the net, Mathew Leckie controlled the ball on the right and evaded Lucas Hernandez before delivering a low ball across the goal.
Even though it didn’t seem like there was any contact between the players, Hernandez injured his right knee while attempting to stop Leckie.
After being assisted to leave, the Bayern Munich defender was replaced by his brother Theo.
The younger Hernandez didn’t get off to the best start because he gave the ball away, allowing Mitch Duke to shoot from long range and miss just wide.
Nevertheless, he contributed to the equalizer in the 27th minute when Rabiot headed in Hernandez’s cross after Antoine Griezmann’s right-wing corner was cleared.
Five minutes later, as France took the lead, Rabiot was once more involved. He chased Nathaniel Atkinson off the ball on the French left and then played a one-two with Mbappe before setting up Giroud.
While France dominated the game after halftime, Australia’s Jackson Irvine header that struck the post in first-half stoppage time served as a reminder that Australia could still pose a threat.
Just before Mbappe headed in Ousmane Dembele’s cross off the post to make it 3-1 midway through the second half, Griezmann had a shot cleared off the line.
Mbappe then took on a new role, crossing for Giroud to head in a historic goal as France scored their fourth in the 71st minute.
This was a successful evening for France in spite of all the injuries and after witnessing what happened to Argentina earlier.
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