FORTUNATE France were left relying on World Cup technology to see
off battling Australia in the opening Group C game in Kazan.

Didier Deschamps’ team were on the receiving end of the first VAR
penalty in the tournament’s history.
France were fortunate to see of Australia in a VAR-affected game
Paul Pogba's winner barely scraped over the line to hand France
three points
And then they were awarded an 81st minute by the goal-line
technology after the Aussies had levelled with a spot-kick of their
The men from Down Under were fuming when Uruguayan ref Andres
Cunha awarded France their 58th minute penalty after Griezmann
went down under Josh Risdon’s challenge as they chased Paul
Pogba’s through ball.
But he was persuaded to look another look at the incident by VAR
official Mauro Vigliano and after studying the action on the pitch-
side TV ruled that Ridson had caught Griezmann’s trailing leg.
Ridson argued that the contact was purely accidental but Griezmann
was not to be distracted as he buried his shot past keeper Mat Ryan.
France scored late through a heavily-deflected Paul Pogba strike
Yet just when it was beginning to look as though the French were
going to get away with a lucky victory, they were stopped in their
tracks by Samuel Umtiti’s moment of madness.

Adrian Mooy’s probing free-kick into the box was heading towards the
forehead of French centre-half Raphael Varane until Barcelona
defender Umtiti inexplicably punched the ball away.
Ref Cunha seemed to take an age to make up his mind before
presenting Aston Villa veteran Mile Jedinak with the chance to send
Hugo Lloris the wrong way with his 62nd minute spot-kick.
France, though, were not to be denied and claimed an ill-deserved
victory when Pogba’s shot took a deflection off Aussie defender Aziz
Behich and looped over Ryan.
VAR was called to award a France penalty in the second-half
The Brighton keeper snatched the ball after it bounced down off the
bar but not before the cameras had spotted that it had already
crossed the line.
It was a bitter blow for the Aussies after they had survived an early
onslaught to give French boss Deschamps some serious concerns.
The Concacaf champions knew they were in for a busy afternoon right
from the start, with keeper Ryan forced into four saves in the first
eight minutes alone.
The pick of the bunch came when Kylian Mbappe got in behind centre-
half Mark Milligan for a fierce angled shot which Brighton star Ryan
did well to push around his near post.
Yet totally against the run of play, the men from Down Under almost
snatched a shock 17th minute lead when Adrian Mooy’s free-kick was
flicked on by Mathew Leckie.
French midfielder Corentin Tolisso tried to clear the danger but only
succeeded in diverting Leckie’s header towards his own goal and it
took the remarkable reactions of Hugo Lloris to claw the ball away.
It was the first sign that this young French team could be susceptible
to stage fright in what for many of them was their first appearance
at a major international tournament.
And they clearly did not fancy their opponents’ no-nonsense
approach, with Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Lucas Hernandez
regularly going to ground whenever challenged.

Having battled through 22 qualifying matches to get to Russia,
Australia clearly were not going to go down without a fight.
But it wasn't quite enough as they were seen off right at the death by
Pogba's late winner.