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VAR helps France beat Australia 2-1 in WC Group C opener | Coastweek

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Mathew Leckie [left] of Australia vies with Lucas Hernandez  [center] of France during a group C match between France and Australia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Kazan, Russia, June 16, 2018. XINHUA PHOTO - YANG LEI

VAR helps France beat Australia 2-1 in WC Group C opener

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- A historic VAR-assisted penalty from Antoine Griezmann and a late goal from Paul Pogba helped France to a labored 2-1 win over Australia in the opening World Cup Group C match at the 45,000-seat Kazan Arena here on Saturday.

French coach Didier Deschamps chose a fluid 4-3-3 formation, while Australian boss Bert van Marwijk decided to go with a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Les Bleus came into the contest with a great deal of firepower, but their much-vaunted frontline of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele struggled to break down an obstinate Australian defense in the opening 45 minutes.

While France did force Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan into four saves, it was the Socceroos who had the first half’s best chance.

Aaron Mooy swung in a dangerous free-kick which took a nick off Corentin Tolisso and almost crept into the bottom corner for an own goal.

Into the second half, World Cup history was made in the 56th minute, when referee Andres Cunha made use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review system to award a penalty to France after Antoine Griezmann was adjudged to have been fouled in the area.

The 41,279 spectators in attendance also witnessed the very same replays on the screens in the Kazan Arena.

Griezmann then broke the deadlock by tucking home the resultant penalty, though France’s lead was to last only four minutes, as Australia were awarded a spot-kick of their own after Samuel Umtiti inexplicably handled a cross.

Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot to level the scores.

Just when it seemed the game would be heading for a draw, a late shot from France midfielder Paul Pogba looped off Australian defender Aziz Behich before hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing just over the goal line.

Though Australia pushed forward in search of an equalizer, France held on to seal an unconvincing victory.

The 1998 World Cup winners will take on Peru in their next game on June 21, while Australia will be hoping for better things when they take on Denmark on the same day.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

France tie 0-0 with Australia in first-half Group C opener

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- France are tieing 0-0 with Australia in the first half of their World Cup Group C opener at the 45,000-seat Kazan Arena here on Saturday.

The 4-3-3 formation that French coach Didier Deschamps chose against Australia was one of the strongest possible line-ups for Les Bleus, while Australian boss Bert van Marwijk decided to redeploy his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Les Bleus came into the contest with a great deal of firepower, but their frontline has struggled to break down an obstinate Australian defense in the opening 45 minutes.

During the game’s opening stages, France forced Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan into four saves.

But it was Australia who had the first half’s best chance.

Aaron Mooy swung in a dangerous free-kick which took a nick off Corentin Tolisso and almost crept into the bottom corner for an own goal.

The rest of the half played out without either side creating many chances.

France’s much-vaunted frontline has struggled to make an impact, while Australia have been well-organized at the back.

As FIFA’s seventh-ranked team, Les Bleus are among the 2018 World Cup favorites and are heavily favored to beat the 36th-ranked Socceroos on Saturday.
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Australian Van Marwijk satisfied with team, disappointed with result

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Australia head coach Bert van Marwijk said he was proud of his team’s performance but also disappointed in the result following a narrow 2-1 defeat to France in the World Cup Group C opener on Saturday.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, the 66-year-old praised the performance of his players.

"Nobody expected that we could play like this against France," he said.

"There were a lot of moments when the French players didn’t know what to do anymore.

The French players said (that) themselves.

"That’s a big compliment for us," added the Dutchman.

Van Marwijk also hailed his players’ strength of character.

"One of the most positive things is we showed the guts and we can be ourselves.

"The next game is another game.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," he added.

However, the Dutch tactician also expressed disappointment in the circumstances surrounding France’s opening goal, which came after the first VAR-assisted penalty in FIFA World Cup history.

Referee Andres Cunha initially did not award the penalty, but changed his mind after consulting the pitchside VAR review system.

France forward Antoine Griezmann scored from the resultant spot-kick to give France the lead.

Van Marwijk expressed his disappointment at the decision, noting that the referee had been standing close to the original incident when he decided not to give the foul.

"He’s also a human being, and everyone makes mistakes," lamented van Marwijk.

The Dutchman would not be drawn on his tactical plans for Australia’s next match against Denmark, and also refused to comment on the performance of the French team.

"I only watched my team.

"I will not talk about France.

"I wish them all the luck, and I mean that."
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France must and will do better in next game, says Deschamps

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- French head coach Didier Deschamps told press on Saturday afternoon that his team must and will do better in the next game following Les Bleus beat Australia with the help of the first use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the World Cup Group C opener.

"The first match is always a major one.

"We are very happy that we won a highly difficult and complicated game," said Deschamps.

France, led by the front of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, has not created many chances in the game against Australia.

"I think we lacked some speed in the passes and we don’t push forward and move backward very quickly," the French coach said during the post-match press conference.

"We have not done a great game, although they have had only one opportunity which is the penalty we gave them.

"I do not want to say too much because they are going to sound like excuses.

"I think we’ve let Australia slow down the game.

"We have lacked speed and coordination in our offensive dimension."

Regarding the first-used VAR technology which helps France earn a penalty, the 49-year-old coach said "an error is corrected" because of the new technology.

"The referee did not see there was a foul and he rectified," responded Deschamps after being questioned about the goal action of Griezmann who scored the first VAR-assisted penalty.

"An error is corrected and it is positive."

Deschamps also hailed Paul Pogba’s performance and the late goal.

"He is a great player with great potential and has got what it takes.

"I think he felt more comfortable in the way we played today with three midfielders.

"He has the freedom to do more," he added.

             

 

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