FIFA World Cup 2022; Socceroos beaten by France in opening match in Qatar

football

DOHA: For 18 glorious minutes, Australian football was back on the biggest stage.

Until it wasn’t, as France scored four times without response to run away with a 4-1 win.

When Craig Goodwin’s effort hit the back of the net in front of France’s core support group and stunned them into silence, who would have thought the match would devolve into a situation where with 15 minutes to go, Australian fans would be fearful of their worst-ever World Cup loss? 

LIVE UPDATES: FIFA World Cup in Qatar

READ MORE: Socceroos future rivals fire blanks at World Cup

READ MORE: ‘One love’ ploy scrapped amid FIFA threats

Rabiot equalises for France

The goal was well-crafted, as Mat Leckie’s first and second touches were sublime to take him around Lucas Hernandez (who was then subbed off with an injury and replaced by his brother, of all people) and provide the assist, and when Mitch Duke’s 20-yarder went wide with Hugo Lloris likely beaten, tails were well and truly up.

After all, Saudi Arabia had done it earlier in the day – so why not Australia?

But where the Saudis had been compact and, more importantly, competent in that shock win over Argentina, mental mistakes quickly began to creep in for the Aussies as both a potential win and draw faded into memory.

Adrien Rabiot’s equaliser was entirely preventable, as he was somehow left unmarked from a threatening pass into the area, before the second was downright infuriating for Graham Arnold.

Right back Nathaniel Atkinson had drawn arguably the hardest assignment in world football – handling Kylian Mbappe one-on-one – and while the PSG megastar had gotten the better of him a few times, none of those had led to a goal.

Instead, Atkinson was caught needlessly on the ball by Rabiot, who would play a one-two with Mbappe and then roll a pass across goal to give Olivier Giroud a tap-in.

Perhaps the game would have ended differently if Jackson Irvine’s header right before half time had hit the post and gone in, instead of bouncing clear. But it’s unlikely, given the wave of chances France created.

Socceroos shock World Champs with Goodwin goal

Such was their expectations of victory after taking the lead, French fans were launching Mexican waves around the field within a minute or so of being in front – and if that were arrogance, it was proven justified with Mbappe and Giroud both scoring headers that again were more down to miscommunications at the back than anything else. 

Instead it’s back to the drawing board with Tunisia waiting in four days’ time, and a mountain of mistakes to fix up.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!



Leave a Reply