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FIFA World Cup: France kicks off title defense with 4-1 win over Australia | Football news

NEW DELHI: Record setter Oliver Giroud scored twice to help defending champions France begin their title defense in a comprehensive 4–1 victory Australia Wednesday at Al Janoub Stadium. At 36 years and 53 days, Giroud became the oldest French player to win in the FIFA world cup and made it a memorable one by joining the legendary Thierry Henry as the nation’s joint record goalscorer with 51 goals.
However, France had to come back from behind to record victory in their opening match after Craig Goodwin gave Australian an early lead in the ninth minute. Giroud found the net before and after the break, on either side of a Kylian Mbappe goal after Adrien Rabiot tied the score after Goodwin’s shocking early opener.
As it happened: France vs Australia | Points table
Les Bleus are the first defending champions to win their opening game since Brazil in 2006, which has already put them in a good position to progress from the group stage, something Italy failed to do in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018.
France, who lost defender Lucas Hernandez to a knee injury, has three points and leads Tunisia and Denmark by two points after they drew 0-0 on Tuesday.
It wasn’t quite the start France expected at the Al Janoub stadium.

Goodwin hit the ball into the roof of the net after a Mathew Leckie cross from the right, leaving Lucas Hernandez to hold onto his right knee after hitting the ball after nine minutes. Hernandez’s brother Theo came on as a substitute and France continued to struggle to create space, with only Mbappé threatening on his left flank.
Australia were much more direct, taking full advantage of Les Bleus’ non-existent midfield.
However, it was Rabiot who tied the score in the 27th, leaving his marker to go home from Hernandez’s cross.
With Mbappe moving more centrally, the Australian defense had another problem to deal with and it became apparent when the heel of the Paris St Germain striker was caught in the area by Rabiot, who pushed the ball to Giroud to get in to tap.

They played more freely from then on, with Antoine Griezmann’s low shot going just wide and Mbappe firing his effort over the crossbar as he charged at Griezmann’s cross from the right.
Australia kept France on their toes and came close shortly before the break when a Jackson Irvine header on a rebound grazed Hugo Lloris’s right post.
Mbappé created more chaos early in the second half, but couldn’t quite find the breakthrough until he silenced Australian fans who chanted ‘Who are you?’ shouted. to him, with a fleeting header in the 68th minute.
Three minutes later, Giroud headed home from a cross from Mbappé, then fell onto his back in apparent disbelief and was surrounded by his teammates in a longer-than-normal goal, adding a thrill to France’s victory.
It took Giroud, who owed his starting place to the absence of Benzema, 115 caps to score his 51 goals, while Henry needed 123 between 1997 and 2010.
There were more chances for France through Hernandez and Ibrahima Konate, but the result was satisfactory enough considering that the defense of their title started in 2002 with a 0-1 defeat to Senegal and was followed by an exit in the first round.
Didier Deschamps’ French side will play Denmark on Saturday and Australia will play Tunisia on the same day.
(With input from agencies)

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