Video Assistant Referee was used in the World Cup for the first time as France edged past a resilient Australia 2-1 in Kazan on Saturday.
Les Bleus were able to salvage the game with a late victor from Paul Pogba, whose effort clipped Aziz Behich and looped up and over Australia ‘keeper Matt Ryan.
The Manchester United midfielder’s shot took a deflection off the boot of defender Aziz Behich before evading the outstretched hands of Ryan and bouncing over the line off the crossbar. That was until the ball went out and the whistleblower called for the use of video technology – VAR – to take a closer look at Risdon’s challenge.
If France got a talking to at half-time, it didn’t show at the beginning of the second half as they didn’t show much improvement until the 58th minute when a great through ball from Pogba found Griezmann through on goal but the striker fell to floor in the box after tackle from Josh Risdon.
Just 4 minutes later, however, France’s Samuel Umtiti made a weird mistake, his flailing arm making contact with a high cross from Aaron Mooy, forcing the referee to award another penalty, which Australian captain Mile Jedinak converted.
“I think it’s a penalty because he trips my left foot and then when I get up, I feel some pain, there was no diving”, said Griezmann.
“For me, it’s not about the goal”.
Pogba was relatively quiet during the match.
There were early warning signs that this could be a walk in the park for France in Kazan – and a long afternoon for Australia – as Benjamin Pavard released Kylian Mbappe, who brought a sharp early save from Ryan. “The referee did not bow his whistle, so I moved on with that”.
After the loss, Australia coach Van Marwijk said that a draw would have been a fair result.
“We showed guts and we showed that we could be ourselves … it gives us confidence”, he told reporters.
“The way we wanted to play, they did it for 95% (of the game) so I can’t blame any players, I can only give them compliments”.
“I (haven’t seen) it back on television. I can’t fault them, almighty effort today”.
Antoine Griezmann of France scores his team’s first goal from the penalty spot.
With Australia’s next two group games scheduled for a 10pm and 12am (AEST) kick-off time respectively, this France figure will take some beating.
Australia maintained their defensive shape in the second half but a lapse in concentration was exploited by the French.
Jedinak celebrates his goal.
But Australia’s joy was short-lived as Pogba’s late slice of luck left the Socceroos with a hard task to get out of Group C in Russian Federation.
Denmark on Sunday morning (AEST) downed Peru, who the Australians meet in their last group game on Tuesday week in Sochi.