MX23RW : Saturday, February 23 19:50:33

Live Commentary: France 2-1 Australia - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage as France begin their 2018 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Australia in Group C.
Live Commentary: France 2-1 Australia - as it happened
© Reuters

France have recorded a 2-1 victory over Australia in Saturday's Group C opener in Kazan.

After a goalless first half, France controversially went ahead through Antoine Griezmann, who converted from the spot after VAR deemed that Josh Ridson had fouled the forward despite appearing to win the ball.

Mile Jedinak quickly equalised with a penalty of his own, but France netted a late winner as Aziz Behich diverted the ball into his own net via the underside of the crossbar.

Find out how all of the action unfolded at the Kazan Arena courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

10.00amHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the World Cup clash between France and Australia. The Group C opener is one of the glamour ties of the first set of fixtures but do Australia have what it takes to cause a surprise?

10.02amBefore we move on with the build-up to this match, we have some team news for you! Who have Didier Deschamps and Bert van Marwijk selected for the game in Kazan?

10.04amFRANCE XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Tolisso, Pogba; Dembele, Mbappe, Griezmann

10.06amAUSTRALIA XI: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Jedinak, Mooy, Rogic; Leckie, Kruse, Nabbout

10.08amLet's start off with France as Deschamps names his first starting lineup for this tournament. Antoine Griezmann may have caused one or two distractions with the dramatic announcement regarding his future at Atletico Madrid earlier this week but the attacker features in a front three which also includes Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe.

10.10amAs expected, both N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba feature in the centre of the park but it is Corentin Tolisso who gets the nod over Blaise Matuidi. Tolisso will be winning just his 10th international cap but the 23-year-old has enjoyed an excellent campaign with Bayern Munich.

10.12amDeschamps has also indicated that he is not afraid to keep with the most logical choices at the back. Benjamin Pavard has been preferred to Djibril Sidibe at right-back and will make just his seventh outing for his country. On the opposite flank, Lucas Hernandez starts ahead of Benjamin Mendy, who missed most of the domestic season through injury.

10.14amFrance's bench contains a variety of alternatives for later in the game. Olivier Giroud may have expected to start but must instead wait for his chance, while the likes of Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar will be keen to showcase their ability on the world stage.

10.16amLet's turn our attention to Australia now and the main news from the Socceroos camp is the absent of Tim Cahill. The 38-year-old probably wasn't expecting to start in a game such as this one, but the legendary forward must bide his time before attempting to score in a fourth World Cup.

10.18amInstead, Andrew Nabbout of Urawa Red Diamonds makes just his fifth appearance for his country and the 25-year-old will be supported by the experienced heads of Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse. However, the trio have just 14 international goals between them...

10.20amAustralia's strongest area is their midfield and it will need to be in order to match Kante, Tolisso and Pogba. Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic are all making their name competing in British football with Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town and Celtic respectively.

10.22amBrighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Mathew Ryan takes his place between the sticks, but there may not be too many familiar names to you at the back. Mark Milligan plays for Al-Ahli, Aziz Behich represents Bursaspor, Josh Risdon plys his trade for Western Sydney Wanderers and Trent Sainsbury is with Grasshopper.

10.24amThis is the first of two fixtures in Group C today. At 5pm, BST, Peru will take on Denmark, with both teams heading into that game on a 15-match unbeaten run! Click here to take a look at our preview.

10.26amFrance were placed in one of the toughest groups in qualifying with Sweden and Netherlands acting as the opposition. Surprisingly (an understatement), Belarus and Luxembourg took points off Deschamps's side but it wasn't enough to prevent France topping the group by a clear margin of four points.

10.28amFrance are undoubtedly the favourites to win this group but history does not support their cause. Les Bleus have only topped their group on two occasions at a World Cup in nine attempts!

10.30amSince the start of the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, France have recorded just three group-stage wins in 12 attempts, with Switzerland their most notable scalp. Honduras and Togo are the other nations to be defeated.

10.32amThat said, France are unbeaten in their last three opening games at a World Cup, with a win coming against Honduras and draws being recorded against Uruguay and Switzerland.

10.34amIt will not act as a priority for Giroud but if the Chelsea forward scores in this fixture, he will become the fourth highest goalscorer for France on his own, moving ahead of Zinedine Zidane. He will be hoping that opportunity arrives with his side in full control of this match.

10.36amGiroud has quickly found himself as one of the oldest outfield players in France's setup. Only Adil Rami - at 32 - is older. In fact, 15 of this 23-man squad is aged 25 or below! The future is bright...

10.38amAt the other end of the scale, goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris is two outings away from reaching 100 caps. Only six players have reached three figures for France. The Tottenham Hotspur stopper is still 44 games short of matching Lilian Thuram's record of 142.

10.40amLet's turn our attention to Australia, who needed a playoff fixture to qualify for this tournament. The Socceroos only finished behind Japan and Saudi Arabia in Group B of the AFC section, but a 3-2 aggregate success over Syria eventually got the job done.

10.42amThat means that Australia are competing at their fourth World Cup in succession and their fifth in total. However, they went out in the group stages in 2010 and 2014 and lost all three games four years ago. Things can only get better, I think...

10.44amIn Brazil, Australia conceded as many as nine goals in just three matches - a joint tournament high alongside Cameroon - but in fairness, they were drawn to play Spain, Netherlands and Chile! It's not got much easier for them this time around!

10.46amAs mentioned, Cahill is only on the bench today - despite scoring 50 goals from 106 appearances for Australia. Frontman Nabbout has one goal from four caps, while Hertha Berlin attacker Leckie has eight strikes from 53 outings, which is respectable enough. Kruse has just five from 64 matches, but the Bochum wideman has just enjoyed a decent year in Germany with seven goals coming from 28 games.

10.48amPREDICTION! There is always uncertainty surrounding a team's opening game at a World Cup but France have all the tools to make this a comfortable 90 minutes for themselves. Australia could have limited success on the break but we are going for a 3-1 win for France.

10.50amHEAD TO HEAD! Saturday's fixture represents the fifth meeting between the two nations, with France registering two wins and Australia prevailing on one occasion.

10.52amBetween 1994 and 2001, Australia competed well against their more illustrious opponents, with the two nations sharing 1-0 victories, as well as a 1-1 being played out. However, it was a different story on their last meeting...

10.54amIn 2013, France emerged victorious by a 6-0 scoreline in Paris, with Giroud and Karim Benzema among the scorers. Could we have a repeat of that today? Who knows...

10.56amIt's time for the two teams to make their way out in Kazan. The temperature isn't at high as it has been - much to the relief of the two sides - but at 18C, it is certainly warmer than some of you probably expected!

10.58amA reminder of the two starting lineups...

FRANCE XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Tolisso, Pogba; Dembele, Mbappe, Griezmann

AUSTRALIA XI: Ryan; Milligan, Behich, Risdon, Sainsbury; Jedinak, Mooy, Rogic; Leckie, Kruse, Nabbout

1 minKICKOFF! Australia get us underway in Kazan!

2 minSHOT! We have had less than two minutes and France have already forced a save out of Ryan. Mbappe got in down the right-hand side of the penalty area before his shot was turned away at the near post by the Australia goalkeeper.

4 minAustralia are sitting very deep but I don't think that it is going to bother France in the slightest. Mbappe wins a free kick around 30 yards from goal and it looks like it will be Pogba to take.

5 minSHOT! The Manchester United midfielder gets his effort on target but it is straight at Ryan.

7 minSHOT! This is very much one-way traffic. The ball falls invitingly for Griezmann on the edge of the area but the attacker's half-volley is well dealt with by Ryan.

9 minAlready, Australia are committing too many needless fouls and it is just inviting pressure upon themselves. The Socceroos are very much off the pace. From the latest set piece, Ryan was in the right place to claim a glancing header which was deflected into his path.

11 minBit better from Australia who are able to gain a cheap free kick out of Pavard, who tugs back a player on the left flank. Most players are on their way forward!

12 minThe delivery into the box did not have enough flight on it and Leckie can only send a header well over the crossbar.

13 minBOOKING! The referee has seen enough of Australia's wayward tackling. Leckie goes into the book for a late challenge on Hernandez.

15 minAustralia are slowly getting to grips with this game and have started to push up the pitch, but that has only resulted in France attempting to play through-balls to their front three. The Socceroos need to find a greater balance between defence and ambition.

17 minCHANCE! Another foul from Pavard - his second in a few minutes - and Australia have another chance to get the ball into the box. The delivery is better and France's Tolisso sends the ball towards the bottom corner of the net, only for Lloris to pull off a brilliant save down to his left. Almost for Australia!

19 minThe opening stages of this game suggested that France could ease to three points, but Australia are matching the European giants now. It's an extremely competitive contest, although the referee is a bit whistle-happy.

21 minIf anything, it is Australia who are seeing more of the ball. Surprisingly, they are looking to stretch the game. Jedinak, Mooy and Rogic are already putting in a shift in the centre of the park.

23 minFrance are becoming visibly frustrated with how things are going, even though we are only moving into the second quarter of the contest. Maybe they expected to be making easier work of this?

25 minWe are 25 minutes through this match and we must have already had 15 fouls. It's not an exaggeration. The officials from Uruguay are giving fouls for the slightest of touches.

27 minFrance are starting to give Australia all of the time they want on the ball. We expected it to be the other way around! France need to change something here because they are now second best.

29 minWe have just had a stoppage because the ball burst after a hotly-contested tackle! It may be best to avoid purchasing one of those over the summer...

31 minFrance are beginning to probe again now and a floated delivery over the top of the defence finds Griezmann, but Milligan gets back to prevent the forward getting a shot on goal.

33 minAre Australia starting to think about the break? France are all over them now and another chance is created for Hernandez on the left-hand side of the penalty area, with the defender's low cross being diverted behind for a corner.

35 minYou may have noticed that we have barely mentioned Pogba and that is because he has had very little impact. There's not much forward movement from France's midfield three and it has hindered their performance.

37 minThe longer that the game continues like this, you would think that Giroud will not remain on the bench for too long in the second half. France need a different option.

39 minIt has been a while since either of the goalkeepers were forced into any work. That suits Australia more so than France. The underdogs are relishing this challenge.

41 minSuch is Australia's confidence that they are playing the ball around in their own defensive third, making Griezmann, Mbappe and Dembele chase. It is proving to be very effective.

43 minWe have not seen much of Nabbout in this half but he is a willing runner. You can see why he got the nod over Cahill. Two minutes left in this first half. Can Australia hold out?

45 minSHOT! Can Australia hold out? They are pushing for a goal! Behich gets down the left and although his first cross is cleared, he then sends a shot wide of the far post with his weaker foot.

45+1 minHALF TIME: France 0-0 Australia

11.49amThe half-time whistle goes in Kazan and we remain goalless. France started on the front foot but Australia have grown into this game and fully deserve to remain on level terms. How much energy have they kept in reserve for the second half? Only time will tell.

11.52amFrance were superb during the opening stages with Mbappe, Pogba and Griezmann all giving Ryan some early work between the sticks, but that was as good as it got for Les Bleus. They threatened in spells but their play in the middle of the park was slow and it only played into Australia's hands.

11.55amAustralia have struggled to create any sustained pressure but what they have done has been effective. The closest that they came was through France's Tolisso, who diverted the ball towards the bottom corner where Lloris pulled off a timely intervention.

11.58amDeschamps have plenty of options on the bench but he may sit tight for now. Van Marwijk will probably adopt the same mindset but some of his players - such as Nabbout - may have been told to do a job for an hour before Cahill is introduced.

12.01pmThe two teams have made their way back out. As expected, no changes from either side.

46 minKICKOFF! France get us back underway.

47 minTo their credit, Australia are looking to continue with their passing game from the back but France have pushed up and seem more prepared to press.

49 minThis is becoming a bit of an issue now. France left-back Hernandez is feigning injury pretty much any time he gets touched by an Australia player and the referee has not even warned him. Most of the so-called infringements have occurred straight in front of the assistant too.

51 minStill no shots to speak of at the start of this second half. Giroud is already lacing his boots up. It won't be long.

53 minAustralia's first attack since the restart sees Leckie release down the right and his cross causes problems for Varane, but the ball doesn't fall for an Australian player and it is cleared.

55 minFor anyone interested, we are up to 21 fouls for the match. Griezmann wanted that to be 22 inside the penalty area but Risdon made a brilliant tackle. The decision is currently being reviewed by VAR but it won't be a penalty.

56 minPENALTY TO FRANCE! Oh my word, he has given it! It's the slightest of touches to the ball but it doesn't appear that the referee has seen that angle on VAR! Astonishing!

58 minGOAL! France 1-0 Australia (Antoine Griezmann)

58 minGriezmann steps up and confidently strikes the ball to Ryan's left. The goalkeeper didn't even move. Australia have every reason to feel hard done by here.

Antoine Griezmann scores from the spot during the World Cup group game between France and Australia on June 16, 2018© Reuters

60 minIt's important now that Australia regain their composure. They are understandably disappointed with that decision. If France net a second, it will probably be game over.

61 minPENALTY TO AUSTRALIA! This is unbelievable! We now have a penalty for Australia for a blatant handball from Umtiti!

62 minGOAL! France 1-1 Australia (Mile Jedinak)

62 minJustice for Australia! Jedinak calmly steps up and sends Lloris the wrong way with a low effort into the bottom corner. Game on!

Mile Jedinak celebrates equalising from the spot during the World Cup group game between France and Australia on June 16, 2018© Reuters

64 minSUBSTITUTION! As expected, Nabbout doesn't last much longer than the hour mark. On comes Juric.

66 minWe have had a quick momentum shift in Kazan. France fancied their chances of running away with this game when going ahead but Australia are matching them again now. This really could go either way.

68 minFrance are about to make some changes. Deschamps has finally recognised that his starting selection just hasn't worked.

70 minSUBSTITUTIONS! Big surprise here! Griezmann is the man to make way for Giroud, while Fekir is replacing Dembele.

72 minSUBSTITUTION! Australia are also making another alteration with Irvine - of Hull City - coming on for Rogic.

73 minSHOT! Pavard has just attempted a volley from 25 yards out. It went around 25 yards over the crossbar. The French youngster has not had the best of games.

75 minWe are into the final 15 minutes. France are starting to up the tempo but Australia have eyes on the draw. We have an intriguing conclusion on our hands!

76 minBOOKING! Tolisso deservedly goes into the book for a cynical trip on the advancing Juric.

78 minSUBSTITUTION! France's final switch sees Matuidi replace Tolisso.

80 minGOAL! France 2-1 Australia (Aziz Behich own goal)

80 minThis is so unlucky for Australia! Pogba goes on his first direct run into the penalty area of the match and although Behich gets the tackle in, the defender can only flick the ball over an hapless Ryan and it hits the underside of the crossbar and goes just over the line.

82 minAustralia are starting to tire now. It has been some effort, but France are taking over. The Socceroos will have to use the final change.

84 minSUBSTITUTION! Australia throw on Arzani in place of Kruse.

86 minTime is running out for Australia. If there is going to be a fourth goal in this match, it will probably be for France. Behich goes into the book for tugging back Fekir.

88 minAustralia have everyone back in their own half just in an attempt to try to retrieve the ball from their opponents. Australia have matched France in every department but this game feels over now.

90 minThere will be five minutes of added-on time. Maybe Australia can still find an equaliser after all.

90+2 minAustralia are still seeing some of the ball but France are pushing the Socceroos back into their own defensive third, looking to force the mistake.

90+4 minAustralia get the ball forward but after two shots are blocked by France defenders, the ball is cleared. That could be that.

90+6 minFULL TIME: France 2-1 Australia

12.55pmThe full-time whistle goes in Kazan and France have come through with a 2-1 victory over a valiant Australia side who will certainly believe that they deserved more from this match. This was supposed to be France's easiest fixture of Group C but Les Bleus were pushed all of the way.

12.57pmThat will be all from Sports Mole for this match. Thank you for joining us for this game and we hope that you can stick around for the other three fixtures which are taking place today.

If you would like to read our on-the-whistle match report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.

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Millwall's Tim Cahill warms up for the match against Cardiff City on February 9, 2018
Read Next:
Cahill named in Australia WC squad

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