Griezmann hits VAR penalty as France squeeze past Aussies

Socceroos 2018

They were ponderous and looked short of ideas in attack and Australia can consider themselves unlucky not to get a point.

Australia manager Bert van Marwijk said he felt "proud and disappointed" after the match.

Now, no technology will be fool-proof; there will be problems, issues and irritations, but to not use it when you can make a decision that could completely change the outcome of the game would be pretty stupid, and Federation Internationale de Football Association, thankfully, have taken the smarter route - not often you can say that about them.

Antoine Griezmann converted to give them the lead after a goalless first half, but Mile Jedinak struck from the spot to equalise minutes later before Paul Pogba's deflected strike hit the bar and bounced in for a late victor. "At least we deserved a draw", the Dutch tactician said.

In the first game on Saturday, in sunny Kazan, though, the VAR was front and centre, with the referee Andre Cunha kept a busy man.

Eight Holland players were shown cards in the game, including a red card for Johnny Heitinga, and don't be surprised to see Van Marwijk employ similar tactics to try and stop France from playing here. Just after I got up, it was hurting a bit.

But French celebrations were short-lived, Australia captain Jedinak levelling only four minutes later after a clear hand ball by Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, still wearing a bandage around a recent head injury, had replaced Griezmann only minutes earlier and played a one-two with Paul Pogba on the edge of the area.

In the first 20 minutes, Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan made as many as four saves, including a close-range flick from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who became the youngest player to appear for France at a major championship.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba put France ahead for good in the 81st minute, his right-footed chip deflecting off Aziz Behich and hitting the underside of the bar and sending the referee's watch buzzing, indicating that the ball had crossed the line. The key for Australia is to have enough in defence to stop the French running riot, while also retaining enough offensive capability to give themselves at least some chance of scoring.

The game finally burst into life 10 minutes into the second period with Griezmann's historic goal. "I can't fault them, almighty effort today".

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