Another solid game of World Cup football. Lack of concentration and defensive lapses ultimately leads to entertaining attacking football. Deschamps got his tactics right. The starting XI provided pace, width and attacking creativity and when he felt that the tides were turning against this side, his double substitution was pivotal in providing a direct focal point and fresh legs.
Early on in the first half, France was relentless but was unable to create a clear cut chance and Australia defended their hearts out. The best opportunity to score a goal in the first session of play came from an Aussie free kick that required the reflexes of a world class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris to save. Goalless at the first half with the football still being entertaining.
The second half of the game was decided by V.A.R and a spurt of brilliance from Paul Pogba. Following a composed moment of defending from Varane, France almost botched a clear cut opportunity but for V.A.R. Australian defender Risdon had to make a challenge on Antoine Griezmann. Initially the referee did not call for a penalty but was asked to review the play due to a clear and obvious error. Ultimately, the decision to overturn the call and award a penalty was the right one. A soft penalty, but a penalty nonetheless. Griezmann stylishly strikes the ball and buries the penalty to give France the lead. This entire run of events of initiated by Paul Pogba whose brilliant pass dissected the Australian defence and freed Griezmann to have a goal scoring opportunity.
Less than two minutes later, Australia was on the score sheet. Why oh why were Umtiti's hands flailing around on a free kick. Keeping your hands down on a set piece is first thing taught to defenders. Australian captain converts the resultant penalty to level the score. Much of the second half was uneventful but for Lucas Hernandez falling to the ground every time he contested an aerial challenge. And then came Paul Pogba. A flurry of one-twos between him and multiple French players combined with his world class dribbling abilities led him to the box where he chipped Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to give France their second and the win. He was assisted by goal line technology but that does not take away from his brilliance.
The result of this game hinges of V.A.R and much to the disappoint of most, V.A.R got the decision right. It was a soft challenge that the referee missed but the decision to review the play and overturn his own call to give France a penalty was the right decision, plain and simple. That, and the brilliance of Paul Pogba. His passing is dribbling ability is amongst the best in the world. His inconsistency since his return to Old Trafford is something he hopes to wash away and this was a excellent start towards that. Deschamps and hopefully this is more than just a once in a blue moon event though his side needs to work dominating the midfield third and delivering final balls. Australia was poor and sloppy defensively and lacked long stretches of focus and confidence though their counteractive football put the French backline on their heels.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba