The defending champions kicked off their
2022 FIFA World Cup campaign in style with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over
Australia in their Group D opener in Qatar. The Socceroos opened the scoring
through Craig Goodwin in the first ten minutes, but a couple of goals from
Olivier Giroud and headers from Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe helped Les
Bleus avoid any upset and comfortably take all three points.
Giroud’s historic brace also took him level
with Thierry Henry on top of France’s all-time leading goal-scorers charts with
51 goals for the men’s national team.
Les Bleus headed to this World Cup on the
back of just one win in their last six matches and a lengthy injury list,
including Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kante. The world champions were
even given a scare early on as Australia took the lead. Matthew Leckie played
an inch-perfect cross across the face of the goal into the path of the oncoming
Craig Goodwin, who slammed the ball from the far post into the roof of Hugo
Lloris’ net to give Australia a surprise advantage.
France left-back Lucas Hernandez was
injured in the build-up of that goal after going down clutching his knee and
was later forced off the pitch and ruled out of the rest of the tournament to
add to Didier Deschamps’ injury woes. Lucas was replaced by his brother Theo at
left-back, and it was the substitute who provided the assist for France’s
equaliser, the AC Milan defender setting up Adrien Rabiot in the 27th minute.
The central midfielder turned provider for
France’s second goal, regaining possession high up the pitch for the reigning
champions before sliding through Olivier Giroud for a simple finish. Australia
hit the post in first-half stoppage time but were quickly blown away by the
French after the break.
Kylian Mbappe got on the end of Ousmane
Dembele’s cross with a glancing header to score his fifth goal at a World Cup
before teeing up Olivier Giroud just three minutes later. The PSG forward
exploded past his marker on the left wing with his change of pace and delivered
the perfect lofted cross for Giroud, who made no mistake with his header to
score his record-equalling 51st goal in national colours.
France had more chances to add to their
tally in the closing stages but eventually ran out 4-1 winners, becoming the
first team since Brazil in 2006 to begin their World Cup defence with a