Olivier Giroud’s brace fired reigning champions, France to a comeback 4-1 victory over Australia in Group D at 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Craig Goodwin unexpectedly fired Australia ahead in the ninth minute after he met Matthew Leckie’s cross on a quick attack.
Adrien Rabiot headed France level in the 27th minute before he turned provider five minutes later, as he teed up Giroud to put the Les Bleus ahead in the 32nd minute.
Second-half headers from Kylian Mbappe and Giroud in the 68th and 71st minutes respectively wrapped up victory for the reigning champions, who now sit top of Group D.
Denmark and Tunisia sit second and third respectively in the group after they contested a goalless draw at Education City Staium, Al-Rayyan.
Reigning champions, France made a quick start but the first chance fell to Australia in the third minute as Riley McGree fired wide of the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.
Australia though defended well in the opening stages and got their reward six minutes later as Harry Souttar played long to Matthew Leckie on the right, with the Melbourne City winger teeing a low cross across the box for Goodwin to lash into the top-right corner.
Mitchell Duke then missed a chance to double the Socceroos’ lead in the 22nd minute, having rifled over from 25 yards after he intercepted Theo Hernandez’s backpass.
France however refused to relent in their high-pressing which paid off five minutes later, as Rabiot headed in an equalising goal from Hernandez’s return cross into the box from a corner won by Antoine Griezmann.
Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus then built quickly upon their equaliser as Giroud put a 29th minute header wide, but atoned minutes later as he fired the defending champions ahead, courtesy of Rabiot’s pass after the Juventus midfielder had combined with Mbappe into the box.
Giroud, Ousmane Demble, Griezmann and Mbappe then all wasted chances as France finished the first-half on top, whilst McGree missed a chance to pull Australia level at the break after heading wide in the second minute of injury time from Jackson Irvine’s cross.
After half-time, Australia came out on the front foot and even won an early corner which came to nothing as Griezmann made a comfortable headed clearance.
France from then on began to seize control of the game as Giroud bicycle-kicked a 50th minute effort wide from Hernandez’s cross, before he played part of an one-two move with Mbappe into the box 11 minutes but the latter fired over the bar.
Griezmann then saw his 67th minute shot cleared off the line after having collected Hernandez’s pullback, yet France extended their lead one minute later as Dembele teed up Mbappe to head in from close range.
Giroud eventually wrapped up victory in the 71st minute as he smashed a header in from Mbappe’s perfectly direct cross to clinch his second goal, which saw him move joint-top of France’s goalscoring charts with Thierry Henry on 51 goals apiece.
France ultimately ran out a 4-1 comeback win despite having finished in firm control amidst a series of impressive saves from Matthew Ryan to deny them further goals.
France will now meet Denmark at 7pm AST on Saturday 26 November, whilst Australia face Tunisia at 1pm AST on the same date.
Saudi Surprise In Group C
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia sent shockwaves through the world as early second-half goals from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari stunned Argentina in a comeback 2-1 win to top Group C, after the two-time champions had led through Lionel Messi’s 10th minute penalty.
Mexico meanwhile sit second ahead of Poland after the pair drew 0-0 at Stadium 974 in Doha.
France: Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Lucas Hernandez (T Hernandez 13′), Adrien Rabiot, Aurelien Tchouameni (Fofana 77′), Ousmane Dembele (Coman 77′), Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud
Substitutes: Axel Disasi, Raphael Varane, Jules Kounde, Matteo Guendouzi, Randal Kolo Muani, Youssouf Fofana, Jordan Veretout, Steve Mandanda, William Saliba, Kingsley Coman, Theo Hernandez, Alphonse Areola, Eduardo Camavinga, Marcus Thuram
Australia: Matthew Ryan, Nathaniel Atkinson (Degenek 85′), Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich, Aaron Mooy, Craig Goodwin (Kuol 74′), Riley McGree (Mabil 73′), Jackson Irvine (Baccus 85′), Matthew Leckie, Mitchell Duke (Cummings 56′)
Substitutes: Milos Degenek, Fran Karacic, Marco Tilio, Bailey Wright, Jamie Maclaren, Ajdin Hrustic, Awer Mabil, Andrew Redmayne, Cameron Devlin, Danny Vukovic, Thomas Deng, Garang Kuol, Joel King, Jason Cummings, Keanu Baccus
Referee: Victor Gomes (South Africa)